Accused Russian Spy Can Subpoena American University

WASHINGTON (CN) – Accused Russian spy Maria Butina can subpoena the Washington, D.C., college where she attended graduate school, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Maria Butina walks with Alexander Torshin on Sept. 7, 2012, while Torshin was a member of the Russian upper house of parliament in Moscow, Russia. When gun activist Maria Butina arrived in Washington in 2014 to network with the NRA, she was peddling a Russian gun-rights movement that was already dead. Fellow gun enthusiasts and arms industry officials describe the strange trajectory of her Russian gun-lobby project, which U.S. prosecutors say was a cover for a Russian influence campaign. Accused of working as a foreign agent, Butina faces a hearing on Sept. 10 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pavel Ptitsin)

As laid out in an Oct. 12 memorandum, attorneys for 29-year-old Butina are seeking records on any investigations American University conducted into Butina, rosters of each class she took at the school and documents related to a complaint she filed against a professor who told The Daily Beast Butina bragged in class about her ties to the Russian government.

“The government has alleged that Ms. Butina acted as a Kremlin-agent of influence and that her tenure at American University was merely a ‘cover,'” the 13-page memo had said. “A likely defense at trial will be that Ms. Butina’s academic pursuits were sincere and that she was an ambitious graduate student who sought scholastic rigor, not a ‘cover.'”

With slight changes, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan granted the motion for the subpoena on Wednesday.

The order requires American University to comply with the subpoena by Dec. 17 and to redact any information “beyond persons’ names and photographs” that might appear on the documents.

Chutkan’s order also directs Butina’s attorneys and the government to meet by Nov. 12 to discuss a protective order for the documents, without which Butina’s attorneys are not to send out the subpoena. According to the 3-page order, the subpoena will go out sometime between Nov. 14 and Nov. 16, after Chutkan issues rules for how the information from American University will be handled.

When information does come in from the school, it will be placed under seal, according to Chutkan’s order.

A spokesman for American University declined to comment on the decision beyond confirming that Butina is no longer a student but graduated from the school in the spring.

A grand jury indicted Butina in July on counts of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government and acting as an agent of a foreign government. She is accused of using connections within political groups such as the NRA to further Russian interests in the United States.

Chutkan earlier this month quashed another set of subpoenas Butina’s attorneys sent out, saying they did not follow the proper procedure.

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