Judge imposes gag order on lawyers in Russian espionage case

September 10, 2018
Maria Butina walks with Alexander Torshin, then a member of the Russian upper house of parliament, in Moscow, Russia, on Sept. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Pavel Ptitsin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. District Court judge has imposed a gag order on public statements from lawyers involved in the case of a Russian woman accused of working in America as a secret agent for Moscow.

Judge Tanya Chutkan on Monday ruled that Robert Driscoll, attorney for Maria Butina, had “crossed the line” in his frequent public comments about the case.

Chutkan also denied a defense request that Butina, 29, be released and placed under house arrest. The judge agreed with the prosecution’s contention that Butina represented an extreme flight risk.

The judge also chastised the prosecution for its initial allegation that Butina had offered sex in exchange for assistance and access. Prosecutors on Friday admitted this contention was based on a mistaken interpretation of one of Butina’s text message exchanges.

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