The feds say Maria Butina was a Russian spy sent to build a secret backchannel to the Kremlin. Sure, she allegedly seduced her way into the senior-most levels of the American conservative movement, but she left a trail of sloppy tradecraft a mile long in the process. Where other Russian spies used fancy encryption software to communicate and wouldn’t talk about their espionage work in anything other than face-to-face meetings, Butina freely direct messaged and emailed the explicit details of her alleged criminal conspiracy on behalf of the Kremlin, according to an FBI affidavit. In addition to her work sidling up to conservative political circles, Butina also displayed a growing interest in cybersecurity, asking friends for advice on Facebook, picking a cybersecurity major at AU, and hitting the think tank event circuit to attend an event on cybersecurity issues.
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