Judge imposes gag order on lawyers in Russian espionage case

In this photo taken on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012, Maria Butina walks with Alexander Torshin then a member of the Russian upper house of parliament in Moscow, Russia. When gun activist Maria Butina arrived in Washington in 2014 to network with the NRA, she was peddling a Russian gun rights movement that was already dead. Fellow gun enthusiasts and arms industry officials describe the strange trajectory of her Russian gun lobby project, which U.S. prosecutors say was a cover for a Russian influence campaign. Accused of working as a foreign agent, Butina faces a hearing Monday, Sept. 10 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pavel Ptitsin)  —The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. District Court judge has imposed a gag order on public statements from lawyers involved in the case of a Russian woman accused of working in America as a secret agent for Moscow.

Judge Tanya Chutkan on Monday ruled that Robert Driscoll, attorney for Maria Butina, had “crossed the line” in his frequent public comments about the case.

Chutkan also denied a defense request that Butina, 29, be released and placed under house arrest. The judge agreed with the prosecution’s contention that Butina represented an extreme flight risk.

The judge also chastised the prosecution for its initial allegation that Butina had offered sex in exchange for assistance and access. Prosecutors on Friday admitted this contention was based on a mistaken interpretation of one of Butina’s text message exchanges.