WASHINGTON: A 29-year-old Russian woman living in Washington has been arrested and charged with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian government while developing ties with US citizens and infiltrating political groups, the US Justice Department said on Monday.
Maria Butina allegedly worked at the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government who has been sanctioned by the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, the Justice Department said in a statement.
Butina was arrested on Sunday and was ordered held pending a
hearing set Wednesday, it said.
Earlier this year, a Russian former double-agent collapsed in a British town alongside his daughter and tested positive for being poisoned by a nerve-agent.
The 66 year-old Sergei Skripal was moved to Britain in a 2010 spy swap. He was found unconscious along with his daughter Yulia on a bench outside a shopping centre in the southwestern English city of Salisbury on Sunday.
The father and daughter were rushed to a hospital, however the poisoning drove Britain-Russia relations to a low point.
Hundreds of counter-terrorism detectives deployed to the investigation are working “around the clock” to create a timeline of the victims’ movements, with “many hours” of CCTV under review, police said.