Anna Bogacheva was detained and briefly threatened with extradition to the US after being named in Mueller report

A Russian national charged with attempting to meddle in the 2016 American presidential elections was briefly threatened with extradition to the United States after being arrested in Belarus, before she was was freed by local authorities.

Anna Bogacheva was detained late on Monday evening by police at a hotel in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, while on holiday with her family, according to RIA Novosti, the Russian state news agency. Her lawyer said she had been detained under an international arrest warrant issued by the United States.

Bogacheva was one of 13 Russians indicted last year by the US justice department after the investigation into election interference led by the special counsel Robert Mueller. Three Russian entities, including a notorious state-backed troll farm called the Internet Research Agency, were also indicted.

Russias foreign ministry confirmed on Tuesday that Bogacheva had been arrested and said that it was providing consular assistance. But shortly after the foreign ministry statement, Russias embassy in Minsk announced that Bogacheva had been freed.

A spokesman for Belarus general prosecutors office said that there were no grounds for her arrest or extradition to the United States. She has been released, the spokesman said, adding that Minsk would apply to have the international warrant for her arrest invalidated on the territory of Belarus.

Mueller alleges that the St Petersburg-based Internet Research Agencys employees, including Bogacheva, posed as US citizens to set up social media accounts aimed at swaying the 2016 presidential vote that brought Donald Trump to power, as well as sowing discord in the US political system.

US investigators say the Internet Research Agency is controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a wealthy businessman known as Putins chef because his companies often provide catering services to the Kremlin. Prigozhin is also reported to provide mercenaries for Russias military operations in Syria, Ukraine and parts of Africa.

Bogacheva is accused of working as a translator for the agency and overseeing its data analysis group. She and Alexander Krylova, another agency employee, travelled to the United States in June 2014 on what US investigators say was an intelligence gathering trip.

Bogachevas arrest in Minsk briefly looked set to derail relations between Belarus and Russia. Viktor Vodolatsky, an MP from Vladimir Putins ruling United Russia party, accused Belarus of a betrayal before news of her release broke.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

 

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