Maria Butina is a Libertarian gun rights activist from Russia who had come to the US, she says, to foster good relations between her country and the US, meeting with the National Rifle Association and other conservative groups. During this time, she had a romantic affair with cryptocurrency enthusiast and Overstock.com Founder/CEO Patrick Byrne.
In July 2018, she was arrested by the FBI at her apartment in Washington, DC as part of Robert Mueller’s “Russian Collusion” Investigation. After weeks of interrogation, she was convicted last December of being an unregistered foreign agent, pleading guilty to the felony charge of conspiracy to influence a gun rights group in the United States. She served 4 months in solitary confinement and a total of 15 months in Federal lock-up before being released three days ago and deported to Moscow, where she was interviewed by Russia Today, here.
Butina was the victim of a political stunt to create the illusion that the “Trump-Russia Collusion” was real. She says the American justice system is lost. “Lost, not just for me as a Russian but for the average American, too.” She has been banned from ever reentering the United States.
“I guess, because the peace-building activities that I was performing without registration is such a bad crime and – being sarcastic, here – that I can’t go back…I still don’t understand why it was necessary…I guess they were trying to break my will but for what? I didn’t have any secrets. I was just a student believing in peace-building between the two countries…
“I had no money in my case. I have no conspirators in my conspiracy. So, I conspired with myself! I have no illegal activities and…no victims. The only crime I made was not to register. Here’s my question: ‘Is it really normal to keep a person for four months in solitary confinement and then 18 months in prison for not filing a piece of paper?’ This law does not even have a form for registration. So, I think it’s just a little too much.”
She says she took the plea because she was looking at 15 years in prison at the height of anti-Russian hysteria in Washington DC and didn’t feel she had a better option. The whole thing was so terrifying and surreal, she felt that if she were to fight the charges, she would have been sentenced all 15 years.
She tells her RT host, “I’ll be honest with you. If you’re today a Russian in the United States, I would be very worried, because…there was no substance. There was no reason to bring me in and arrest me and give me time – especially give me time. Why? What was this cruelty for? I just don’t understand that. So I would be worried.”
Going forward, Butina intends to use her accidental notoriety to shine the light on prisoners’ rights. “I will be talking about the conditions of my imprisonment because the country should be measured on how it treats its prisoners. They [the US] treat their prisoners very bad…if I never talked about this, it means I betrayed all these girls who asked me to be their voice. All these souls in prison, who had never been heard and many of them were unjustly accused. I feel obligated to talk about this. I’m just gonna tell the truth the way it is.”
For his part, Patrick Byrne went on several news shows last August and abruptly announced his resignation from the company that he’d founded and built for 20 years, while also suggesting that he’d been compelled by the FBI to spy on his then-girlfriend, Butina.
Byrne says that it was while he was watching Peter Strzok’s July 2018 testimony before Congress (around the time Butina was arrested) that he realized that he’d been used by the FBI as a tool in “political espionage” for the 2016 presidential campaign.
He says that he “could not come forward until there was rule of law in this country,” which he did do in April of 2019, as soon as Attorney General William Barr was sworn in and an investigation into the origins of the Russian Collusion probe was initiated. Byrne’s information is now in the hands of Connecticut US Attorney John Durham, who has been conducting an investigation into the origins of the Russia probe at the behest of Attorney General William Barr.
He says Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump were all spied on, that Clinton supporters in Hollywood had been spied on and that there were other whistleblowers who would be coming forward.
Immediately after his TV appearances, Byrne reportedly re-located to Thailand, where he is now living under heavy guard until this whole Trump coup psychological civil war thing blows over.