Washington, April 4: Attorney Alex van der Zwaan has been sentenced to one month in jail and ordered to pay a $20,000 fine for lying to the FBI about his contacts with the campaign of US President Dold Trump. Van der Zwaan is the first person to be sentenced in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Efe news reported on Tuesday.
The London-based 33-year-old van der Zwaan, the son-in-law of a Russian oligarch, is the first person convicted and sentenced in the Russia probe headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller regarding possible Kremlin links with Trump’s campaign. US intelligence agencies have accused Moscow of interfering in the elections. Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that the sentence was designed to “reflect the seriousness of the offence, promote respect for the law” and reduce sentencing disparities. “This is not something that happened to him. This is something he did,” she said. “He put is persol interests ahead of the interests of justice.” The Belgian-born accused must also spend two months under supervised release after he completes his sentence. The sentence handed down against van der Zwaan is within the bounds of what had been expected, given that earlier the judge had weighed the possibility of sentencing him to a maximum of six months behind bars. In addition, the sentence will allow van der Zwaan to return to his residence in London in time to be present at the birth of his first child in August, a matter that had been a priority for his attorneys.
Van der Zwaan pled guilty in February to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Mueller’s office during a questioning session on November 3, 2017. At that time, van der Zwaan tried to hide from investigators his contacts with two of the main figures in the Russia probe — former Trump campaign chairman Paul Mafort and his number two, Rick Gates, both of whom stand accused of about a dozen crimes, including money laundering. Van der Zwaan allegedly had no link with the Trump campaign, but Mueller says that the lawyer and Gates held conversations with a Russian intelligence agent identified as “Person A” in September and October 2016, just before the election. (IANS)