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UPDATE 1-Moscow says U.S forced false confession from alleged Russian agent Maria Butina

Updated: 19-12-2018 19:45 IST
Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the United States of forcing Russian national Maria Butina to falsely confess to what it described on Wednesday as the ridiculous charge of her being a Russian agent.

Butina pleaded guilty in a U.S. court on Thursday to a single conspiracy charge in a deal with prosecutors.

The 30-year-old Siberian admitted working with a top Russian official to infiltrate a powerful U.S. gun rights group and to making inroads with American conservative activists and politicians as an agent for Moscow.

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, said on Wednesday that Butina had been coerced into making a false confession.

"Butina confirmed that she had done a deal with U.S. investigators and confessed to being a foreign agent," Zakharova told a news briefing in Moscow.

"Having created unbearable conditions for her and threatening her with a long jail sentence, she was literally forced to sign up to absolutely ridiculous charges."

Butina's legal team and U.S. prosecutors face a 5 p.m. (2200 GMT) deadline to submit legal filings regarding their positions on the case at the U.S. District Court in Washington. A status hearing in the case is scheduled for Feb. 12, 2019. (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow and Susan Heavey in Washington; Writing by Andrew Osborn Editing by Tom Balmforth)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)