Russian FM demands release of citizen detained in US

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW (AA) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Saturday demanded the release of a woman detained in the U.S. over allegations that she is a Russian agent.

According to a Foreign Ministry statement, Lavrov spoke to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the phone.

Lavrov stressed the unacceptability of the actions of the U.S. authorities, who detained "on the basis of fabricated charges Russian citizen Maria Butina and the need for her most rapid release".

A U.S. judge on Wednesday jailed Butina until her trial, after prosecutors argued she has links to Russian intelligence.

The detention came following a Monday meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

Both presidents agreed on improving relations between the two countries and restoring "an acceptable level of trust".

Their first meeting, however, has stirred condemnation from Democrats and Republicans alike over a series of comments Trump made that appeared to place him unduly close to Russia.

At issue are his comments about Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 White House race and initial praise for an interview exchange proposal Putin offered.

Lavrov and Pompeo also discussed developments in Syria, the denuclearization process in the Korean Peninsula, and agreements reached during the Helsinki summit.

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