This translates to nine months plus the nine months already served, which is the full length of time that the prosecution asked for (probation office asked for 12 months).
Here is how this stacks up against old FARA prosecutions:
One last point I haven’t made, and have seen few other people make, is that relative to the (very few) previous cases of recent US prosecutions under FARA, Butina’s indiscretions were trifling. For instance, in United States v. Samir A. Vincent, the accused was found guilty of acceptions millions of dollars from Saddam Hussein to lobby for the removal of Iraq sanctions (and he had serious contacts, all the way up to former President Carter). His eventual punishment was a fine of $300,000 and community service. The very latest case concerned Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, a pro-Pakistani lobbyist who also received millions of dollars and had high political contacts, until the US clamped down when relations with Pakistan soured following the US raid to kill Osama bin Laden. He was initially sentenced to two years in jail, which was later reduced to one year and a half. However, his crimes also included tax evasion.
18 months is very fair and proportionate. /s
As I noted at that time: “Consequently, if prosecutions under FARA can be considered to be a gauge of American official attitudes, we may consider that the US is more hostile to Putin’s Russia than to Saddam-era Iraq or the country that sheltered a terrorist who killed 3,000 of its citizens.” We can now consider that to be official.
Strictly speaking, she was not indicted under FARA but under Section 951, but regardless, the key issue was the foreign agent registration part. This is furthermore despite the fact that she “fully cooperated” with the government. Doesn’t appear to have done her any good, LOL.
What makes this all the more amazing is that the judge Tanya Sue Chutkan suggested that Butina took part in “Russian interference” in the 2016 elections, despite her name not appearing anywhere in the Mueller report.
Outside court, Butina's lawyer Robert Driscoll pushed back on the judge bringing up Russian interference in the election. He said Mueller's team interviewed Butina, and if she'd been involved, Mueller "would have mentioned it somewhere in his 400 pages" https://t.co/RZcVANnF8Q pic.twitter.com/wPqJSxFsKg
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) April 26, 2019
As we pointed out in a petition to free Butina in August 2018, this also sets a horrible precedent by essentially criminalizing Russian-American contacts of a political nature.
However, you don’t exactly have to be a “gun nut” to be concerned about the implications of this case for free speech in the United States, as well as the potential impact on public diplomacy between Russia and the United States – public diplomacy that is arguably needed more than ever, given the current state of relations between the two nuclear superpowers. But given this precedent, how can we reasonably expect ordinary citizens to practice public diplomacy – to learn, network, and exchange ideas with each other – when Russians face the real risk of arrest and imprisonment in the United States for having had associated with officials from both countries?
Some of my articles on Butina:
- US Arrests Russia’s Foremost 2nd Amendment Activist
- Case Against Maria Butina Continues Falling Apart
- Not A Spy, Not Even An Agent. As I Said Hours After Her Arrest.
The first article, written hours after he initial arrest, established that Right to Bear Arms was a legitimate Russian civil society organization, not some false front set up to specifically give Butina cover to infiltrate the GOP/NRA/whatever as was widely claimed. Moreover, its relations with the Kremlin were not entirely cordial, as gun rights is not something that Russia’s rulers much care for.
The second article covered the news that Butina was not trading sex for political access, as the American MSM had claimed (selective American frenzies against “slut-shaming” regardless).
The third article was an extended commentary on the best and most comprehensive article on the Butina Affair to date by James Bamford, The Spy Who Wasn’t.
One revelation of many is that Butina rebuffed a guy who had a national security role in Trump’s campaign, which is the exact opposite of how either a spy or a foreign agent would behave. In the end, even Mueller wasn’t interested in pursuing the case, with it being taken up by a pair of provincial FBI agents with no experience in espionage or organized crime investigations.