A federal judge on Friday sentenced 30-year-old Russian national and American University graduate student Maria Butina to 18 months in prison after she pleaded guilty in December to one count of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign official.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan gave Butina credit for nine months served and ordered her deported as soon as her time is up, according to NBC News.
“You have a future ahead of you. I wish you the best of luck,” she said.
Butina was arrested in July under suspicion of being a Russian spy. Butina was dating Republican political operative Paul Erickson, and had forged friendships with leaders of the National Rifle Association, but claimed she was not a spy and just working to mend U.S.-Russian relations.
“I came here to better my life to get a degree. I wished to mend relations while building my resume,” she told the judge, according to NBC News. “It was for these actions and my own ignorance that I’m here.”
Butina expressed regret over harming Americans by not notifying the U.S. government she was working to improve the U.S.-Russian relationship.
“It has never been my intention to harm American people but I did so by not notifying your government. It has harmed my attempts to improve relations, ” she said. “I have three degrees, but now I’m a convicted felon with no money, no job, and no freedom.”
“Instead of building peace, I created discord,” she said.