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Accused Russian spy asks U.S. court to change plea

By Nicholas Sakelaris

Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Attorneys for accused Russian spy Maria Butina filed court documents Monday that indicate she has reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.

Butina, 30, filed a "change of plea" motion in federal court in Washington, D.C. The filing said she wants a hearing by Thursday.

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Butina was arrested in July and accused of conspiring to act as an agent of the Kremlin. She met with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2016, who answered a question from her at a conference. She also became friends with prominent National Rifle Association members.

Butina is being held on charges of conspiracy and acting as a Russian agent.

The charges say Butina had been in contact with powerful Russian figures while she studied in the United States at American University to keep them informed of her activities.

Russian media portrayed Butina as an innocent woman held by the United States as a political prisoner, and Russian leaders have demanded her release. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova said previously the charges against her had been "trumped up."

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Zakharova has also said the United States is not allowing Butina proper medical care and holding her in solitary confinement for 22 hours a day.

Court documents filed Monday say Butina will remain in custody.

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