Russia demands US release 'spy', calls charges false

Maria Butina. (AP)
Updated 22 July 2018
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Russia demands US release 'spy', calls charges false

  • US prosecutors say Maria Butina, 29, exploited her close links with the powerful NRA gun lobby while posing as a visiting graduate student
  • Butina has been accused of working with a high-powered Russian official and two unidentified US citizens

MOSCOW: Russia’s foreign minister told his US counterpart on Saturday that a woman arrested in the United States on accusations she was a Russian agent had been detained on “fabricated charges” and should be released.
Sergei Lavrov made the comments about Maria Butina in a phone call to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that was aimed at improving bilateral relations, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement in the wake of the recent summit in Helsinki.
On Wednesday, a US judge ordered Butina jailed until her trial after US prosecutors argued she has ties to Russian intelligence and could flee the United States.
Butina has been accused of working with a high-powered Russian official and two unidentified US citizens, trying to infiltrate a pro-gun rights organization in the United States and influence the United States’ foreign policy toward Russia.
Lavrov said the actions of the American authorities, who arrested Butina “on the basis of fabricated charges,” were unacceptable and called for her release as soon as possible.
Lavrov and Pompeo also discussed ways to improve bilateral relations on “equal and mutually beneficial grounds” after the leaders of the two countries, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, met in Helsinki on Monday.
They also talked over possible joint efforts aimed at improving the humanitarian situation in Syria as well as the “challenges” of Korean peninsula de-nuclearization. 


Militants kill 6 Pakistani troops in southwest Baluchistan near Iran

Updated 18 February 2019
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Militants kill 6 Pakistani troops in southwest Baluchistan near Iran

  • No one immediately claimed responsibility, but suspicion fell on militants and the Daesh group

QUETTA, Pakistan: Pakistani police say militants in two attacks on security forces killed six paramilitary troops in the southwestern Baluchistan bordering Iran.
Local police officer Hidayat Ullah said Monday that four troops were killed Sunday when gunmen opened fire on security forces in the town of Turbat. Two troops were killed in the southwestern town of Loralai a day earlier.
No one immediately claimed responsibility, but suspicion fell on militants and the Daesh group, which emerged as a major force behind violence in the region in recent years.
Sunday’s two attacks on Pakistani troops came days after an attack on Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard killed 27.
Iran claims that attack was “planned and carried out from inside Pakistan.” Pakistan rejected the charge and condemned the violence in Iran and offered cooperation.