Maria Butina explains why she agreed to a plea deal despite her innocence
“I saw with my own eyes that there is no justice in the US.”
Leontiev:You signed a plea deal. We were watching the case very closely, just like all of Russia. Some lawyers said the prosecutors might not have enough evidence to prove your guilt. Why then take a plea bargain?
Butina: Imagine you are in a foreign country, away from your parents… you have no contact with your family. You are locked up in solitary confinement. It’s very cold and you sit on the floor. You might be facing a 15-year sentence. I thought about how old I was going to be and whether my parents were going to be alive when that day came. And then you find out, that according to statistics, in the US about 98% of defendants who face a jury get convicted. So the chance of you losing is, well, quite high. Besides, who would have been judging me? I would have faced a jury in Washington – the people who watch CNN, the people who have already been fed this narrative, and with those people, it wouldn’t have mattered what I was being accused of. I would have been on trial for being Russian. I would have been sentenced to 15 years. So I believe I made the only right decision. There was no other way.