(Trends Wide) — Elena Branson, a Russian-American citizen, was accused of acting as a spy in the United States, according to court documents that indicate she ran organizations that “seeked to spread Russian propaganda.”
Branson was charged Tuesday with acting and conspiring to act unlawfully in the US as an agent of the Russian government, knowingly failing to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, conspiring to commit visa fraud and making false statements. to the FBI, according to a criminal complaint.
The document states that Branson fled to Russia in 2020.
Complaint says Elena Branson promoted Russian policies
Since at least 2011, Branson has worked on behalf of the Russian government and Russian officials to promote Russian interests in the United States, the complaint says. Prosecutors allege that she coordinated meetings of Russian officials to pressure US political officials and businessmen. They also accuse her of leading organizations to publicly promote Kremlin policies.
Trends Wide has attempted to contact Branson for comment on the charges.
The indictment comes as tensions between the US and Russia continue to escalate following the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine last month. In the face of which the US has been at the center of a multinational effort to punish Russia for its actions.
Among the allegations, prosecutors say Elena Branson exchanged a series of emails in March 2016 with a Russian minister, who asked her to set up a meeting with Donald Trump, then a Republican presidential candidate, or his daughter, in New York. The complaint records that Branson sent the minister a draft letter to the now former president inviting him to the Russia Forum in New York in April 2016. But there is no indication that Trump or his children attended the meeting.
Trends Wide has reached out to Trump representatives for comment.
Prosecutors accuse Branson of running an organization in New York City called Russian Center New York. Which allegedly received “tens of thousands of dollars in funds from the Russian government and received direct orders from Russian officials about public events and messages,” according to the complaint.
Correspondence with Vladimir Putin
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said Branson is accused of corresponding with President Vladimir Putin and met with a high-ranking Russian minister before founding a “propaganda center” in New York City. York.
“Branson’s promotional outreach, including an ‘I Love Russia’ campaign directed at young Americans, exemplifies his attempts to act at the behest of the Russian government to unlawfully advance its interests in the United States,” Williams said in a statement.
“Especially given current world events, the need to detect and thwart attempts at foreign influence is of paramount importance. And the Southern District of New York is proud to do its part in the fight against tyranny,” he added.
Prosecutors said the FBI interviewed Branson in September 2020 and that she falsely claimed Russian officials had never asked her to coordinate meetings between American business or political leaders and Kremlin officials.
The FBI searched the organization’s offices in 2020, and prosecutors allege that Branson flew to Moscow about a month after the break-in.
In 2021, prosecutors said, Branson did an interview with the Russian state network Russia Today, where she said she left the United States because she was “scared” and thought she was likely to be arrested if she stayed in the country.