Justice Dept seeks to detain alleged Russian agent

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Butina was arrested over the weekend amid signs that she planned to leave the country.

Butina was charged with conspiracy to act as an agent of Russian Federation "by developing relationships with USA persons and infiltrating organizations having influence in American politics", the statement said.

"You have upstaged Anna Chapman", a Russian official wrote to her in a private Twitter message, referring to the sultry spy who was arrested in 2010 as part of that case, according to court papers.

Prosecutors outlined in a court document seeking her continued detention how she had maintained a web of people to support her mission in the United States, and was in touch with employees of the Russian FSB, the spy agency that succeeded the KGB.

Ahead of an afternoon court hearing in Washington, the government released documents arguing that Butina constituted a flight risk, citing among other factors, her recent "intention to move money outside of the United States" and indications that she was preparing to move out of her residence, as well as her alleged "ties to the Russian Intelligence Services" and other Russian billionaires.

Butina used a U.S. citizen, who isn't named by prosecutors but matches the description of political operative Paul Erickson, to gain access to an extensive network of Americans in position to influence political activities in the country, prosecutors said.

Butina engaged in all of this activity between 2015 and 2017 without ever informing the U.S. Attorney General that "she would and did act in the United States as an agent of a foreign government", according to the indictment.

US Person 1 is not identified by name, but is widely believed to be longtime GOP strategist and gun rights activist Paul Erickson.

The Russian Embassy in Washington says Butina hasn't been able to meet with consular representatives since her Sunday arrest.

Torshin, who became an NRA life member in 2012, was among a group of Russian oligarchs and officials targeted in April by Treasury Department sanctions for their associations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and their roles in "advancing Russia's malign activities". They both met briefly with Donald Trump Jr.at the 2016 NRA convention in Louisville, Kentucky, and Torshin reportedly sat at his table.

"On at least one occasion, Butina offered an individual other than U.S. Person 1 sex in exchange for a position within a special-interest organisation", prosecutors said. One such exchange occurred a month before the US presidential election when Butina said she understood that "everything has to be quiet and careful".

Prosecutors say the official directed Butina to use her contacts with the NRA and other conservative causes to gather intelligence on American officials and political organizations.

Her lawyer, Robert Driscoll, has said she did not work as a covert Russian agent. Law enforcement officials then became concerned that Butina appeared to be planning to leave the Washington area and chose to seek charges and make an arrest, according to people familiar with the case. As evidence, he pointed to the fact that Butina did not flee after testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed session earlier this year, or after Federal Bureau of Investigation agents raided her home in April.

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