Butina is charged with conspiracy and acting as an unregistered foreign agent for the Russia government. U.S. prosecutors indicated in a court filing Monday that she has accepted a plea deal. Putin said at a meeting of the presidential human rights council on Tuesday that he asked Russian intelligence services for information about 30-year-old Butina after he heard about the "poor girl" who faces 15 years in prison.
"When I heard that something is happening to her, I just went to all intelligence chiefs and asked who she was," he said in televised remarks after a council member raised the issue of defending the rights of Russians abroad. "No one knows anything about her."
Butina, who was arrested in July and has been in custody since, was charged with conspiracy and acting as an unregistered foreign agent for Russia. Her lawyer has argued that Butina is a student interested in American politics and U.S.-Russian relations.