Russian President Vladimir Putin has made his first comment about a self-admitted Russia agent sentenced in the United States.
Putin’s Saturday comments in Beijing were made after Russian foreign agent Maria Butina was sentences to 18 months in prison.
“It’s an outrage,” Putin told reporters. “It’s not clear what she was convicted of or what crime she committed. I think it’s a prime example of ‘saving face.’ They arrested her and put the girl in jail. But there was nothing on her, so in order not to look totally stupid they gave her, fixed her up, with an 18-month sentence to show that she was guilty of something.”
The Siberia native was given the jail terms on Friday despite begging the judge to show mercy towards her attempts to infiltrate a gun rights group and influence US conservative activists and Republicans.
She apparently tried to infiltrate the National Rifle Association (NRA) and influence US policy toward Russia.
The 30-year-old was reportedly involved in arranging a trip by NRA members to Moscow in late 2015.
Butina’s arrest in mid-July 2018 came days after the DOJ charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking Democratic officials in the US elections.
Moscow has strongly criticized the US government for detaining Butina over the past several months, labeling the case against her “fabricated” and calling for her release.