Accused spy Maria Butina asks to be moved from solitary confinement

Accused Russian spy Maria Butina has asked a judge to order her removal from solitary confinement and into general population at a detention center in Alexandria, Virginia, where she is being held on federal charges.

In a briefing filed in federal court Tuesday, lawyers for Butina described the conditions under which they say she has been held for the past six days: “These inmates are locked up and enclosed in a steel door cage the size of a parking space, deprived of any meaningful human contact or sensory stimulation for 22 hours a day, every day, with no release date in sight.”

Butina, a 30-year-old Russian national, was indicted and arrested in July on charges of conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent, stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Prosecutors allege she infiltrated U.S. political groups and worked on behalf of a high-ranking Russian official with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Butina previously spent over two straight months in solitary confinement but was then briefly placed in general population, her lawyers wrote. On Nov. 21, she was removed “for her safety” after she was found giving another inmate her lawyer’s phone number. Her lawyers argued the action does not constitute a “major or minor” infraction worthy of being held in solitary confinement.

Her lawyers said the deprivation of human contact is “starting to have a profound psychological impact” on Butina, who they say will require mental health treatment if she continues to be held in isolation.

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