Nearly a year ago, the New York Times carried the story of the master spy Maria Butina (post). One photo showed her as a student pilot in a Piper Warrior (market value: $30,000?). Later it turned out that she was planning to move to South Dakota in order to more effectively continuing her spying on the Federal government. Vladimir Putin claimed not to know her (CNBC), exactly as we’d expect if she were a critical Kremlin asset.
Now this from CNN… “How the case against Maria Butina began to crumble”:
Prosecutors, meanwhile, have acknowledged that Butina is no Russian spy. But they insist her crime was still nefarious and that she acted as an “access agent” to help spot people who could be recruited as intelligence assets down the road.
“Butina was not a spy in the traditional sense of trying to gain access to classified information to send back to her home country. She was not a trained intelligence officer,” prosecutors acknowledged in a court filing. But, her actions “had the potential to damage the national security of the United States.”
Maybe next time our counterintelligence agents can be trained to look for spies in turbine-powered aircraft?
[U.S. taxpayers, in addition to paying for the investigation and prosecution, now also get to pay for 18 months of incarceration, Butina’s sentence for failing to register as a foreign lobbyist.]
- https://philip.greenspun.com/blog/2018/07/21/sex-on-the-job-american-versus-russian-editions/ (the initial articles claimed that she was trading sex for valuable information; it later transpired that the purported master spy was getting paid so much by Putin that she needed a 56-year-old male sex partner to pay her college tuition; he was charged with “money laundering”)
- Rudolf Hess, sentenced to the same 18-month prison term for attempting to overthrow the German government in 1923