Accused Russian spy Maria Butina poised to plead guilty to some charges

Maria Butina, the accused Russian spy who prosecutors say gathered intelligence on American officials and political organizations, is poised to plead guilty to some charges this week, signaling a likely plea deal with the government.

Butina, who initially pleaded not guilty, is expected to change her plea in a hearing now scheduled for Wednesday. The potential plea change was revealed in a court filing Monday.

“The Defendant Maria Butina, by counsel, and the government, by and through its attorney, the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, respectfully file this joint motion to set a change of plea hearing…at the Court’s earliest convenience,” the filing, reviewed by Fox News, stated.

Federal prosecutors have alleged that Butina, 30, gathered intelligence on American officials and worked to develop relationships with American politicians through her contacts with the National Rifle Association, and used her role as a student at American University in Washington as a cover for her activities.

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Prosecutors have also alleged that her work was directed by a former Russian lawmaker who was sanctioned by the Treasury Department for his alleged ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Butina was arrested in July and charged with conspiracy and acting as an unregistered foreign agent for Russia. Butina pleaded not guilty to those charges. Her lawyers have argued that she was a student interested in American politics and the strengthening of U.S.-Russia relations.

Butina’s case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, and not Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates during the 2016 presidential election.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.