Maria Butina last month pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as an undisclosed agent of Russia in the U.S., but her parents told NBC News they can't believe she knowingly worked on the Kremlin's behalf.
Butina's family in Russia said she was an ambitious student who enjoyed sports, reading "Harry Potter" and Ray Bradbury books and shooting. She founded Russian pro-gun rights group Right to Bear Arms in 2011.
“She wanted to influence society,” her sister said.
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Butina was arrested last year after building a network within the U.S. National Rifle Association, admitting that she established "unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over U.S. politics … for the benefit of the Russian Federation."
Russia's government has denied that she has ties to official government conduct.