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Elena Branson: Russian-American accused of operating as an illegal Russian spy in the US

Elena Branson was on Tuesday charged with acting and conspiring to operate illegally in the US as an agent of the Russian government, knowingly not registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, conspiracy visa fraud and making false statements to the FBI, according to a criminal complaint.

The lawsuit alleges that Branson fled to Russia in 2020.

The lawsuit alleges that since at least 2011, Branson has worked on behalf of the Russian government and Russian officials to advance Russian interests in the United States. Prosecutors accused her of coordinating meetings for Russian officials to lobby US political officials and businessmen and operating organizations to publicly promote government policies. Russia.

CNN attempted to reach Branson for comment on the allegations.

The allegations come as tensions between the US and Russia continue to increase after Russia’s Unprovoked Invasion of Ukraine last month, with the center and center of the United States in a multinational effort to punish Russia for its actions.
Among the charges, prosecutors say Branson exchanged a series of emails in March 2016 with a Russian minister who asked her to hold a meeting with Donald Trump, who was then the Republican presidential candidate, or his daughter, in New York. The complaint states that Branson sent the secretary a draft letter to the now-former President inviting him to the Russia Forum in New York in April 2016, but there was no indication that Trump or the His children attended the meeting.

CNN has reached out to a Trump representative for comment.

According to the prosecutor’s complaint.

US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said that Branson is believed to have corresponded with Vladimir Putin of Russia, and met with a senior Russian minister before setting up a “propaganda center” ” in New York City.

Williams said in a declare.

He added: “Particularly in light of today’s global events, the need to detect and prevent foreign influence efforts is of paramount importance and the Southern District of New York is proud to be a contribute to the fight against tyranny,” he added.

Prosecutors say the FBI interviewed Branson in September 2020 and she falsely claimed that she was never asked by Russian officials to coordinate meetings between business leaders or politicians United States and Russian government officials.

The organization’s offices were ransacked by the FBI in 2020, and prosecutors allege Branson flew to Moscow about a month after the search.

In 2021, prosecutors said, Branson gave an interview to the state-controlled Russia Today network, where she said she left the US out of “fear” and thought she would likely be arrested. caught if stay in the country.

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