Butina defense attorneys fight request for 18 months of jail time

Prosecutors' memo came in Friday night

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN
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Maria Butina

Maria Butina's defense team is fighting back against the prosecutors' sentencing memo in her case, which came in Friday night before her sentencing this week and unexpectedly asked for more jail time for her.

Prosecutors on Friday filed a pre-sentencing memo asking 18 months jail time for Butina, in a case where they've alleged scandalous actions and had to walk back some of them, yet where they still allege the Russian woman sought to hurt the US in her work as a foreign agent.

"Activities at issue in this case are part of Russia's broader scheme to acquire information and establish relationships and communication channels that can be exploited to the Russian Federation's benefit," prosecutors wrote in their pre-sentencing memo Friday.

They say she was not a traditional spy or "trained intelligence officer," but sought to help Russia at the expense of US national security.

In this strongly worded filing, her defense attorneys, who previously had asked the sentence to be the time she has already served, reiterated that she is not a spy or Russian intelligence agent and has helped both the Senate Intelligence Committee as it investigated her contact and former Russian central banker Alexander Torshin, and prosecutors extensively, while asking the judge to throw out some of the prosecutors' discussion of her activities for Russia.

"Maria is not a trained intelligence officer nor a spy in any sense," her defense attorneys wrote. "The government knows that. Its prosecutors and federal agents behind closed doors have all but expressed that. There is no evidence to support that, and they have not charged her with any espionage-linked crime that addresses that."

"All Maria has done is accepted responsibility for conspiring to act as an 'agent'—not a secret agent, not an intelligence agent—for Torshin, who was a friend but former foreign official of the Russian Central Bank," her attorneys continued.

Her sentencing is set for Friday.

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