Glenn Reynolds links to an article that suggests Marina Butina was railroaded. I met Maria Butina briefly at an NRA function at the annual meeting. I still have her business card. She was completely up front that her organization had the blessing of the Kremlin. I remember her saying that, and saying that they were not an opposition group, since such things aren’t allowed.
I didn’t think much of it because at the time the UN Arms Trade Treaty was among the buzz, and the Kremlin was opposed. So I figured the outreach was to build alliances against the treaty. I don’t recall her claiming she was just a little old Russian girl from Siberia who started a gun rights group, though she did pitch she was hoping to build an RKBA movement in Russia.
I take the Spectator article with a grain of salt. I accept that Butina is probably sitting in prison for engaging in what a lot of foreign nationals in DC routinely do. I accept that she was unlucky enough to get caught up in the Russian collusion narrative and that her activity would never have risen to the level of being noticed otherwise. I do agree she wasn’t a spy in the sense most people understand it. But she is, in my opinion, guilty of what she was charged with, along with a lot of other foreign nationals that will never be unlucky enough to get caught up in a red scare-like whirlwind.