NRA-Linked Russian Maria Butina Is Appealing Her 18-Month Sentence

Maria Butina, the NRA-linked Russian national who pleaded guilty to acting as an unregistered foreign agent, is appealing her 18-month sentence, according to a court notice filed by her lawyers Wednesday.

A federal judge handed down the sentence — which will take into account time served for her detention since her July 2018 arrest — last month. The sentence was harsher than many were expecting, given that the probation office recommended only 12 months in its sentencing report.

Prosecutors, however, had asked for 18 months and said they would have asked for two years had she not provided “substantial” assistance in her post-plea cooperation. In the lead-up to her sentencing, the government filed court documents claiming that Butina’s “spot and assess” operation, meaning that the information she was passing along to an ex-Russian government official, could have been later used to identify potential targets for intelligence recruitment. Her lawyers disputed the claims. Nonetheless, that argument appeared to resonate with U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan as she explained the sentence.

According to Wednesday’s filing, Butina is currently being incarcerated at the Grady County Jail in Oklahoma.

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