Dec. 7 (UPI) — Russia demanded Thursday that the U.S. release alleged Russian spy and gun rights activist Maria Butina from custody, saying she faces “trumped-up charges.”
Both are “trumped-up charges,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a briefing, according to a transcript posted online early Thursday. Zakharova alleged U.S. officials are not affording Butina “proper medical care” and that she is held in solitary confinement for 22 hours each day.
“We consider this an attempt to intimidate and break her down ahead of the court hearing — I should note once again on a fabricated case — scheduled for December 19,” Zakharova said.
Amid an ongoing dispute between Russia and Ukraine, Zakharova challenged the Trump administration’s criticism of the Russian coast guard’s seizure of three Ukrainian ships late last month.
Zakharova likened the two situations to one another.
“If our American partners think they can comment on the detention of people who violated Russia’s state border, they should start by commenting the situation around the political prisoner held in their country,” she said.
She has said that she is innocent and was simply a foreign student in America, not a foreign agent. U.S. prosecutors argue that she was in touch with Russian counterintelligence agents and a Russian intelligence official.