30-year-old Maria Butina has been deported from the US to Russia after being released from a jail in Florida on Friday.
The Russian agent was sentenced to eighteen months in jail after being accused of trying to infiltrate the National Rifle Association (NRA) with the aim of influencing policy.
The Russian government termed the charges as fabricated.
She landed at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Saturday, where she was met by her father and a dozen journalists.
While addressing the media, Butina thanked Russia’s diplomats and foreign ministry, and Russian citizens who wrote letters on her behalf.
Butina, a weapons enthusiast, moved to the US to pursue her masters degree at American University in Washington DC. She was arrested in July 2018 and charged with acting as an agent of the Russian Federation “without prior notification.”
Butina is believed to have founded a Russian lobby group called the Right to Bear Arms. She made multiple trips to the US, where she attended several NRA conventions.
She was also linked to Alexander Torshin – a former member of the Russian Senate and deputy chairman of the Russian Central Bank.
She initially denied the charges but later pleaded guilty in December 2018 as part of a plea deal.