Putin: My spy chiefs know nothing about alleged agent Butina in U.S

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with the President of the Alexander Solzhenitsyn Russian Public Fund Natalia Solzhenitsyn (not pictured) in Moscow, Russia December 11, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

MOSCOW (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday it was unclear to him why a Russian woman, Maria Butina, had been detained in the United States and accused of being a Russian agent because his intelligence chiefs had told him they knew nothing about her.

Butina is suspected of trying to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and influence U.S. policy towards Russia and is expected to plead guilty this week following a deal between her lawyers and U.S. prosecutors, according to court filings on Monday.

“…she risks 15 years in jail. For what?” asked Putin. “…I asked all the heads of our intelligence services what is going on. Nobody knows anything about her.”

Reporting by Polina Devitt and Andrew Osborn; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Andrew Osborn

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