The multimillionaire CEO of Overstock.com engaged in a sexual relationship with Russian spy Maria Butina with the encouragement of the FBI but did not follow their directions when they told him to rekindle it, he has claimed.
Ironically, The DOJ had alleged Butina offered sex in exchange for influence in DC but now the FBI is being accused of the same charges.
Patrick Byrne met Butina for the first time at FreedomFest, an annual libertarian convention in Las Vegas, in July 2015.
“The second period, I did it because I was instructed to rekindle it. However, I decided that was not the right thing to do,” Byrne said. “But I was told where the orders came from, and the orders came from high enough that I accepted the orders.”
He told the Washington Examiner that Butina approached him after his keynote speech, telling him she was the leader of a gun rights organization in Russia, but he “brushed her off.” Butina later approached him again and said she worked for a top official at the Central Bank of Russia and invited him to speak there.
By his account, the 57-year-old CEO, who said he holds a low-level security clearance, reported the contact with Butina, 30, to the U.S. government. The FBI then gave him a “green light” to get to know Butina. The two began a romantic relationship, which ended in March 2016. Four months later, he said, the FBI asked him to rekindle the relationship with Butina.
The revelation of Butina’s relationship with Byrne marks another twist in the case in which Butina was portrayed as using sex to infiltrate political groups, including the National Rifle Association. Prosecutors later walked back that assertion, which Butina’s lawyer slammed as sexist. READ MORE: