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Prosecutors admit false witness against Russian Maria Butina, jailed in US

Anti Russian hysteria dominates US government’s reasoning for refusal of bond proceedings for the 29 year old student.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The New Cold War, like any way, claims the innocent just as easily as the guilty. At The Duran, we have been following the story of Maria Butina, the Russian gun-rights activist who was jailed in the US on charges of being an “unregistered foreign agent” in July of this year.

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According to an article in RT published Sunday, September 9th, the American prosecutors were forced to step back and admit that they wrongly accused Ms Butina of offering sex in exchange for a job, apparently part of the core accusation which she is currently sitting in jail for.

US prosecutors … admitted that they wrongly accused Maria Butina, the Russian gun activist jailed in the US on charges of being an unregistered “foreign agent,” of offering sex in exchange for a job.

Days after Butina was arrested in July, Assistant US Attorney Erik M. Kenerson claimed she was offering an individual “sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organization.” The claim, which caused a storm in the mainstream media, has been disputed by her defense attorney Robert Driscoll.

However, in a filing on Friday, prosecutors in the US attorney’s office in Washington, including Kenerson, stressed that the July allegation “was based both on a series of text messages between the defendant and another individual.” They admitted that the “government’s understanding of this particular text conversation was mistaken.” 

Commenting on the Friday filing, Driscoll said that the US government has “enormous power to destroy lives and reputations through the criminal process…This is an unfortunate example of the misuse of that power. I’m glad the false allegation has been acknowledged, but it’s a hard bell to unring,” he told the Washington Post.

Butina, a Russian national lobbying for looser gun controls in her home country, moved to the US on a student visa in 2016. She graduated from American University in Washington DC with a master’s degree in international relations earlier this year. In July, she was arrested on charges of acting as a foreign agent without registering with the US government.

In August, Butina was unexpectedly transferred to another prison. According to the Russian embassy, which repeatedly described the arrest as politically motivated, Butina’s current conditions border on torture. “We have more and more questions for the US justice system,” the embassy said at the time. “Should allegations pressed against Maria before the actual trial condemn her to practices that are slightly below torture?” 

The embassy previously complained that Butina is being subjected to unwarranted strip searches and denied proper medical care, all in an attempt to “break her will.” Driscoll also confirmed to RT that she was experiencing health problems in jail, bus has been deprived proper treatment.

Butina’s charges make her case quite unusual, Driscoll believes, as the law basically makes otherwise legal actions of an individual prosecutable. “There’s no allegation of espionage, there’s no allegation of classified information, there’s no allegation she was paying anyone off, there’s no allegation she was recruiting spies. None of the things you would typically see in an espionage case,” he told RT back in August.

The documentation explaining the US government’s opposition to Ms Butina’s motion for a bond review, which is available for viewing in full here, tells a story of Maria’s alleged danger as a “Russian agent” in much the same manner as a good novel builds its story. While she came to the US to study and learn about American gun rights and the way gun rights are handled in the United States, admittedly for the intent of bolstering a similar push for gun rights in the Russian Federation, the government’s document sidesteps this and instead casts Butina as a “Russian agent” simply because she was living in the US and working with people in the gun lobby.

Given the context of Russophobia, it is remarkable in exactly the way that her defense attorney stated above. There is no allegation of espionage. There is no allegation of moving classified information out of the US, no allegation she was recruiting spies, and no allegation that she was trying to hurt the United States or its interests.

It appears that she was jailed simply because she is a Russian national with an interest in US politics. Nothing more. 

TASS reported further in a piece dated September 5 that Ms. Butina’s parents appealed for help to the Russian High Commissioner for Human Rights, Tatiana Moskalkova:

“I turned to [Moskalkova], [asked her] to stand up for [Maria] and help her come back to homeland,” Valery Butin said.

Earlier, Moskalkova was reported to call upon the US Attorney General, the international community, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, General Secretary of the Council of Europe Thorbj·rn Jagland, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for assistance in Maria Butina’s case.

According to Valery Butin, the next court hearing, scheduled for September 10, is expected to consider that she could be placed under house arrest with electronic monitoring of her whereabouts.

“Maria feels good but the hard sleep-wake cycle remains in place,” Butin added.

Maria’s father said earlier that when he was talking to his daughter by phone, she was not complaining about prison conditions, except the daily routine. Due to administrative segregation that had been imposed on her, she has to stay awake at night. In other words, she is allowed to make phone calls at about 1:00 a.m. Washington time (8:00 Moscow time), he added.

The efforts of the US government to create its case against this student are reminiscent of the relocation camps build for Japanese Americans living in the United States during World War II. When asked about why these people, who had done absolutely nothing untoward the United States, were being incarcerated purely on the basis of national origin, the reply from none less than the Westerd Defense Command head, General John L. DeWitte. He created the grounds for mass incarceration by stating, “The fact that nothing has happened so far is more or less … ominous in that I feel that in view of the fact that we have had no sporadic attempts at sabotage that there is a control being exercised and when we have it, it will be on a mass basis.”

While this regrettable comment is certainly understandable in times of real war, there is no war going on between the US and Russia, except for the narrative and economic war the US has waged against the Russian Federation since 2013. The reaction of Russian citizens living in the United States as well as those living in Russia is uniform sadness and frustration as hysteria, and not law, continue to be the order of the day for the United States with regard to Russia and her people.

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wiggins
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wiggins

What’s with the new commenting format?

Tjoe
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Tjoe

I love it….I kept writing emails about Disqus new policy and remained locked out of commenting. I certainly don’t agree to their new (2) policies and am locked out from my Disqus account, thus could not comment at Duran….and commenting by real people is important to me. Yea Duran!

Raymond Comeau
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Raymond Comeau

The worm has turned. The trumped up case against Maria Butinais now left with 2 jailed phony witnesses who would have been against her.

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BREXIT chaos, as May’s cabinet crumbles (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 18.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at the various scenarios now facing a crumbling May government, as the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is forcing cabinet members to resign in rapid succession. The weekend ahead is fraught with uncertainty for the UK and its position within, or outside, the European Union.

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If Theresa May’s ill-fated Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is eventually rejected this could trigger a vote of no confidence, snap elections or even a new referendum…

Here are six possible scenarios facing Theresa May and the UK (via The Guardian)

1 Parliament blocks Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement and political declarations

May faces an enormous task to win parliamentary approval, given that Labour, the SNP, the DUP and 51 Tories have said they will not vote for it.

If the remaining 27 EU member states sign off the draft agreement on 25 November, the government will have to win over MPs at a crucial vote in early December.

If May loses the vote, she has 21 days to put forward a new plan. If she wins, she is safe for now.

2 May withdraws the current draft agreement

The prime minister could decide that she will not get the draft agreement through parliament and could seek to renegotiate with the EU.

This would anger Tory backbenchers and Brussels and would be seen as a humiliation for her government. It might spark a leadership contest too.

3 Extend article 50

May could ask the European council to extend article 50, giving her more time to come up with a deal that could be passed by parliament – at present, the UK will leave on 29 March 2019.

Such a request would not necessarily be granted. Some EU governments are under pressure from populist parties to get the UK out of the EU as soon as possible.

4 Conservative MPs trigger a vote of no confidence in the prime minister

If Conservative MPs believe May is no longer fit for office, they could trigger a no-confidence vote.

Members of the European Research Group claim that Graham Brady, the chair of the powerful 1922 Committee, will receive the necessary 48 letters this week.

A vote could be held as soon as early next week. All Tory MPs would be asked to vote for or against their leader. If May wins, she cannot be challenged for at least 12 months. If she loses, there would be a leadership contest to decide who will become prime minister.

5 General election – three possible routes

If May fails to get support for the current deal, she could call a snap general election.

She would table a parliamentary vote for a general election that would have to be passed by two thirds of MPs. She would then set an election date, which could be by the end of January.

This is an unlikely option. May’s political credibility was severely damaged when she called a snap election in 2017, leading to the loss of the Conservative party’s majority.

Alternatively, a general election could be called if a simple majority of MPs vote that they have no confidence in the government. Seven Tory MPs, or all of the DUP MPs, would have to turn against the government for it to lose the vote, triggering a two-week cooling-off period. May would remain in office while MPs negotiate a new government.

Another route to a general election would be for the government to repeal or amend the Fixed-term Parliaments Act which creates a five-year period between general elections. A new act would have to be passed through both the Commons and the Lords – an unlikely scenario.

6 Second referendum

May could decide it is impossible to find a possible draft deal that will be approved by parliament and go for a people’s vote.

The meaningful vote could be amended to allow MPs to vote on whether the country holds a second referendum. It is unclear whether enough MPs would back a second referendum and May has ruled it out.

 

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Brexit Withdrawal Agreement may lead to Theresa May’s downfall (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 151.

Alex Christoforou

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The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement has been published and as many predicted, including Nigel Farage, the document is leading to the collapse of Theresa May’s government.

During an interview with iTV’s Piers Morgan, remain’s Alistair Campell and leave’s Nigel Farage, were calling May’s Brexit deal a complete disaster.

Via iTV

Alastair Campbell: “This doesn’t do remotely what was offered…what is the point”

“Parliament is at an impasse”

“We have to go back to the people” …”remain has to be on the ballot paper”

Nigel Farage:

“This is the worst deal in history. We are giving away in excess of 40B pounds in return for precisely nothing. Trapped still inside the European Union’s rulebook.

“Nothing has been achieved.”

“In any negotiation in life…the other side need to know that you are serious about walking away.”

“What monsieur Barnier knew from day one, is that at no point did Theresa May intend to walk away.”

“Fundamental matter of trust to the electors of our country and those who govern us.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Theresa May’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, and why the deal is a full on victory for the European Union and a document of subjugation for the United Kingdom.

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Coming in at 585 pages, the draft agreement will be closely scrutinized over the coming days but here are some of the highlights as outlined by Zerohedge

  • UK and EU to use the best endeavours to supersede Ireland protocol by 2020
  • UK can request extension of the transition period any time before July 1st, 2020
  • EU, UK See Level-Playing Field Measures in Future Relationship
  • Transition period may be extended once up to date yet to be specified in the text
  • EU and UK shall establish single customs territory and Northern Ireland is in same customs territory as Great Britain

The future relationship document is less than seven pages long. It says the U.K. and EU are seeking a free-trade area with cooperation on customs and rules: “Comprehensive arrangements creating a free trade area combining deep regulatory and customs cooperation, underpinned by provisions ensuring a level playing field for open and fair competition.”

The wording might raise concerns among Brexiters who don’t want regulatory cooperation and the measures on fair competition could amount to shackling the U.K. to EU rules.

As Bloomberg’s Emma Ross-Thomas writes, “There’s a clear sense in the documents that we’re heading for a customs union in all but name. Firstly via the Irish backstop, and then via the future relationship.”

Separately, a government summary of the draft agreement suggests role for parliament in deciding whether to extend the transition or to move in to the backstop.

But perhaps most importantly, regarding the controversial issue of the Irish border, the future relationship document says both sides aim to replace the so-called backstop – the thorniest issue in the negotiations – with a “subsequent agreement that establishes alternative arrangements for ensuring the absence of a hard border on the island of Ireland on a permanent footing.”

On this topic, recall that the U.K.’s fear was of being locked into the backstop arrangement indefinitely in the absence of a broader trade deal. The draft agreement includes a review process to try to give reassurance that the backstop would never be needed. Basically, the U.K. could choose to seek an extension to the transition period – where rules stay the same as they are currently – or opt to trigger the backstop conditions. In fact, as Bloomberg notes, the word “backstop,” which has been a sticking point over the Irish border for weeks, is mentioned only once in the text.

As Bloomberg further adds, the withdrawal agreement makes clear that the U.K. will remain in a single customs area with the EU until there’s a solution reached on the Irish border. It’s what Brexiteers hate, because it makes it more difficult for the U.K. to sign its own free-trade deals, which they regard as a key prize of Brexit.

Predictably, EU Commission President Juncker said decisive progress has been made in negotiations.

Meanwhile, as analysts comb over the documents, Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group, has already written to Conservative lawmakers urging them to vote against the deal. He says:

  • May is handing over money for “little or nothing in return”
  • The agreement treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the U.K.
  • It will “lock” the U.K. into a customs union with the EU
  • It breaks the Tory election manifesto of 2017

The full document…

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4 resignations and counting: May’s government ‘falling apart before our eyes’ over Brexit deal

The beginning of the end for Theresa May’s government.

The Duran

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Via RT


Four high profile resignations have followed on the heels of Theresa May’s announcement that her cabinet has settled on a Brexit deal, with Labour claiming that the Conservative government is at risk of completely dissolving.

Shailesh Vara, the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office was the first top official to resign after the prime minister announced that her cabinet had reached a draft EU withdrawal agreement.

An hour after his announcement, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab – the man charged with negotiating and finalizing the deal – said he was stepping down, stating that the Brexit deal in its current form suffers from deep flaws. Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, submitted her letter of resignation shortly afterwards. More resignations have followed.

Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jon Trickett, predicted that this is the beginning of the end for May’s government.

The government is falling apart before our eyes as for a second time the Brexit secretary has refused to back the prime minister’s Brexit plan. This so-called deal has unraveled before our eyes

Shailesh Vara: UK to be stuck in ‘a half-way house with no time limit’

Kicking off Thursday’s string of resignations, Vara didn’t mince words when describing his reservations about the cabinet-stamped Brexit deal.

Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement leaves the UK in a “halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally become a sovereign nation,” his letter of resignation states. Vara went on to warn that the draft agreement leaves a number of critical issues undecided, predicting that it “will take years to conclude” a trade deal with the bloc.

“We will be locked in a customs arrangement indefinitely, bound by rules determined by the EU over which we have no say,” he added.

Dominic Raab: Deal can’t be ‘reconciled’ with promises made to public

Announcing his resignation on Thursday morning, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU.”

Raab claimed that the deal in its current form gives the EU veto power over the UK’s ability to annul the deal.

No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said that Raab’s resignation as Brexit secretary is “devastating” for May.

“It sounds like he has been ignored,” he told the BBC.

Raab’s departure will undoubtedly encourage other Brexit supporters to question the deal, political commentators have observed.

Esther McVey: Deal ‘does not honor’ Brexit referendum

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey didn’t hold back when issuing her own letter of resignation. According to McVey, the deal “does not honour” the result of the Brexit referendum, in which a majority of Brits voted to leave the European Union.

Suella Braverman: ‘Unable to sincerely support’ deal

Suella Braverman, a junior minister in Britain’s Brexit ministry, issued her resignation on Thursday, saying that she couldn’t stomach the deal.

“I now find myself unable to sincerely support the deal agreed yesterday by cabinet,” she said in a letter posted on Twitter.

Suella Braverman, MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the EU © Global Look Press / Joel Goodman
Braverman said that the deal is not what the British people voted for, and threatened to tear the country apart.

“It prevents an unequivocal exit from a customs union with the EU,” she said.

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