Accused Russian agent Maria Butina will remain in jail, U.S. judge rules

A U.S. judge ruled Monday that the accused Russian military operative Maria Butina must remain in jail, saying she poses a "very real risk of flight," and also granted the government prosecutors' request for a gag order in the high-stakes case.

"I cannot envision a scenario for Ms. Butina to be released from jail," said U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan today at Butina's case status hearing.

Butina has been jailed since mid-July following a request by prosecutors who cited what they called her preparations to move away from Washington.

Releasing Butina would result in her being "placed into a car with diplomatic tags," then being being whisked away to the airport for a flight to Russia, said Judge Chutkan.

That sounds about right.

From the Reuters story:

Chutkan imposed a media gag order after prosecutors accused Butina's defense attorney, Robert Driscoll, of violating court rules by speaking publicly about the evidence in ways that could taint the jury pool.

The judge said she agreed that Driscoll's repeated comments to the news media had "crossed the line." Chutkan also warned Driscoll to stop using "quite descriptive" and "colorful" language in the briefs he has filed with the court in the case.

The 29-year-old Butina, a former American University graduate student, was charged in July with acting as an agent of the Russian government and conspiracy to take actions on behalf of Russia. She has pleaded not guilty. She could face years in prison if convicted.

Her lawyers had sought Butina's release from jail pending trial.