Free Maria Butina: Russia Starts Twitter Flashmob Calling to Free Alleged Spy

Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has urged Twitter users to start an online "flashmob" calling for the freedom of alleged Russian spy Maria Butina.

"In connection with the arrest in the United States of Russian citizen Maria Butina, we're starting a flashmob in her support. #FreeMariaButina. Put a photo of Maria as your avatar," reads a message from the official Twitter account of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Thursday.

Butina, a 29-year-old recent graduate of American University in Washington D.C., was arrested last Sunday and charged with conspiracy for allegedly attempting to use her activism in the National Rifle Association (NRA) to infiltrate Republican Party politics on behalf of the Russian government. She has been a person of interest for investigators since at least 2015, but she was arrested over the weekend because the FBI considered her a flight risk.

"Because Butina has been exposed as an illegal agent of Russia, there is the grave risk that she will appeal to those within that government with whom she conspired to aid her escape from the United States," read a court document submitted Wednesday.

Butina maintained a close relationship with a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin's political party named Alexander Torshin, who met with Donald Trump Jr. on the sidelines of an NRA convention in 2016. What the two men talked about in their meeting is unknown; however, the NRA donated around $30 million to the Trump campaign.

В связи с арестом в #США гражданки России Марии Бутиной мы начинаем флешмоб в ее поддержку. #FreeMariaButina. Ставьте себе на аватарки фото Марии.

— МИД России 🇷🇺 (@MID_RF) July 19, 2018

On Wednesday, prosecutors submitted additional documents to the Washington, D.C. District Court, claiming that Butina had been in touch with Russian intelligence officers and maintained a personal relationship with a U.S. citizen in order to gain access to Washington's key organizations.

"During the course of this investigation, the FBI has determined that Butina gained access through U.S. Person 1 to an extensive network of U.S. persons in positions to influence political activities in the United States. Butina, age 29, and U.S. Person 1, age 56, are believed to have cohabitated and been involved in a personal relationship during the course of Butina's activities in the United States," the court documents read.

The U.S. citizen mentioned is suspected to be Paul Erickson, a Republican who claims to have been an adviser for the Trump transition team. According to court documents, Butina offered sex in exchange for a job to at least one other person aside from U.S. Person 1.

The judge ruled that Butina should remain in custody without bail until her next hearing. Through her lawyer, Butina has maintained her innocence during her arrest.