Gun activist Maria Butina is a victim of selective justice, caught up "in the anti-Russian hysteria," attorney Robert Driscoll told RT, warning that the precedent might backfire on US citizens abroad.
"I think it's impossible to separate [Butina's case] from the politics," Driscoll said. He added that it was hard to imagine that a citizen of any other country but Russia would get the same treatment in the US for such a minor offense.
"There's an underlying crime that she's pled guilty to which you can make out under US law. But I think that the notion that this would have been investigated or an arrest would have been made for a typical foreign national who wasn't Russian and wasn't in the current environment in the US... it's almost impossible to believe that."
The way the Butina case unfolded is a prime example of selective justice, Driscoll believes. Historically, the charges she had faced used to be brought against actual spies, which Butina wasn't – even according to the US prosecutors.
"None of Maria's activities in the US were illegal in and of themselves. There is no classified information, no politically sensitive information – and everyone seems to forget that she was not paid by the Russian Federation. She was financially supported by Americans while she was here."
Her case can pave the way for a dangerous precedent for countries "grabbing civilians of other countries as leverage or for other reasons," Driscoll warned.
"Say, a son or daughter of a US senator or cabinet member went to study somewhere and joined a civil society group or a particular interest group – it would be no different than what Maria Butina did," he said.