Lawyers for accused Russian spy Maria Butina asked a judge Tuesday to order her removed from solitary confinement and into the general population.
Attorney Robert Driscoll said in a court filing that Butina has been held in “administrative segregation,” a form of restricted housing, at an adult detention center in Alexandria, Virginia, since November 21.
Butina was previously held in solitary confinement in a Washington, DC, detention center for 22 hours a day before she was released into the general population, Driscoll said in a new court filing.
But personnel at the Virginia detention center moved her back into solitary on November 21 after Butina referred a fellow inmate to her lawyers, he wrote.
“Staff purported to base their decision to segregate on Ms. Butina referring a fellow inmate to her lawyers (that is, she gave her lawyers’ phone number to a fellow inmate), but staff did not find a disciplinary violation – major or minor,” Driscoll wrote. He said he was told by supervisors that the decision was made “for her safety.”
Her removal came five days after Butina’s lawyers and prosecutors with the US attorney’s office in Washington filed a joint motion on November 16 stating they were in negotiations about a “potential resolution of this matter.” The judge set a status conference for December 19.
Butina, a gun enthusiast, was arrested this summer for allegedly acting as an unregistered foreign agent working with a Kremlin-linked banker to influence Republican politicians through conservative groups and the National Rifle Association.
Driscoll wrote in Tuesday’s filing, “These inmates are locked up and enclosed in a steel door cage the size of a parking space, deprived of any meaningful human contact or sensory stimulation for 22 hours a day, every day, with no release date in sight.”
He said between the detention centers in Washington and Virginia, Butina has been in solitary confinement for a combined total of 67 days. He added, “Unless the court intervenes, she will continue to be held in this manner and ultimately require the attention of mental health professionals.”
The US Attorney’s office in Washington declined to comment. Representatives for the Alexandria Detention Center Bureau did not immediately respond to a request for comment.