Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the conviction of the agent Maria Butina by a US court the "offense" and "justice". 1
The 30-year-old pleaded guilty to conspiring as a foreign agent.
But the Russian president said the verdict was an attempt to save face.
In his first public statements since the conviction, Putin said on Saturday that it was "not clear what she was convicted of or what crime she committed."
"I think it's a prime example of" save face. "They arrested her and put the girl in jail, but there was nothing about her so she did not look stupid, she got her an 18-month prison sentence To prove she owes something, "he told reporters in Beijing.
What happened in court?
On Friday, Butina spoke in court: "I destroyed my own life."
The Russian weapons rights activist has been detained since her arrest in July.
While she initially did not plead guilty, she revoked her position after making a deal with prosecutors and admitted in December to a single conspiracy theory.
- Russian in US espionage complains guilty
- Russian agent is imprisoned
The judge stated Friday that Butina had "substantively supported" law enforcement.
But despite Butina's request for leniency The conviction was fully in line with the Government's recommendation.
"This was not a simple misunderstanding of an overzealous foreign student," Judge Chutkan said.
The 18-month prison sentence covers the nine months Butina has already served. She is immediately deported after her sentence is completed.
At the end of the conviction, Judge Chutkan said she wished Butina "the best luck."
Action Against Foreign Lobbying
By Tara McKelvey, BBC News
The prosecution of Butina under the Foreign Agents Registration Act reflects a trend in law enforcement that could have a significant impact Washington.
The law, which requires individuals to disclose activities for foreign interests, has been on the books since the 1930s, but has recently been aggressively enforced. It has been used in cases against Butina, Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman of Trump, and a former Obama White House official, Greg Craig (he will be put on trial in August).
Some say strict enforcement of the law is an important step in creating transparency about foreign groups and their influence on policymaking. Others say it may go too far and jeopardize the work of non-governmental organizations and media organizations that receive support from abroad.
However, as you can see, the suppression is likely to change the way lobbying and policymaking is done.
What exactly did Butina do?
Authorities say Butina has been ordered by a high-ranking Russian official to infiltrate conservative factions, including a nameless lobby organization presumably the National Rifle Association allied with US President Donald Trump's Republican Party of Russian Weapons Activists Allowing US Conspiracy
In their plea agreement, Butina admitted working with former Russian lawmaker Alexander Torshin to infiltrate the NRA and seek US conservative backdoor channels that could affect US policy.
Butina has not reported her activities to the US authorities, as required by law.
In a statement read out in court, one of the prosecutors said that Butina wrote a document called "Diplomacy Project" in March 2015 calling for unofficial lines of communication between high-level US officials and Russia.
She acknowledged that she had worked with two Americans and one Russian official.
Reaction of the Russian Federation
Mr. Putin's remarks on Saturday agreed with earlier statements by the Russian government.
The Russian Foreign Ministry described Friday's result as "a shame on the US justice system" and accused the court of carrying out a "clear political order".
The Russian Embassy in Washington said on their Facebook page that Butina was a "political prisoner" and demanded her immediate release. The site was accompanied by the hashtag "Free Maria Butina".
The Russian government previously described the case as "fabricated".