A Belarusian model — who claims she has proof of Russian involvement in Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign — claims that she has turned the information over to a Russian billionaire.
Despite earlier reports she had destroyed the recordings, model and sex worker Anastasia Vashukevich told the Associated Press in an interview on Friday she had given records to businessman Oleg Deripaska.
The 28-year-old said she did so because it “relates to him” and she “did not want any more trouble”.
Related story: Russian model offers to spill the beans on Trump’s links to Russia
Related story: Nastya Rybka offers ‘information’ to get out of Thai jail
Related story: President Trump’s ties to Russia explained
When pressed Friday by the AP about her previous claims, Vashukevich said she had emailed “everything I had” to Deripaska and dodged a question of whether she kept a copy for herself.
“Oleg (Deripaska) has it all. If he wants to make any of it public, if he thinks that it’s a good idea, he can do it himself,” she said.
Vashukevich first fuelled speculation of links between Trump and the Kremlin last year when she posted a video from a police van.
In the footage, she explicitly stated she had 16 hours of audio and video tying Russian officials to the Trump campaign that won him the 2016 US elections.
“I am the only witness and the missing link in the connection between Russia and the US elections — the long chain of Oleg Deripaska, Prikhodko, Manafort, and Trump,” she said in a video shot while driving through the streets.
Another of Vashukevich’s videos was used in February last year, when Russian politician Alexei Navalny published an investigation of dealings between Mr Deripaska and then Russian deputy prime minister Sergei Prikhodko.
Mr Deripaska’s representative at the time dismissed the reports as “scandalous and mendacious assumptions”. He filed and won a lawsuit against the model for breach of privacy and secured a court ruling to delete the videos of him and Mr Prikhodko from social media.
Vashukevich, who is also known as Nastya Rybka, only returned to Russia last month after spending time in a Thai prison.
After the Navalny investigation, she went to Thailand with her teacher (self-styled sex guru Alexander Kirillov). The two were conducting a sex-training seminar when they were detained.
Charged with soliciting sex, she and several others spent 11 months in a Thai jail before a new ruling gave them suspended 18-month prison terms and deported them to Russia.
In the early stages of their detention, the sex training group sent a note to the US Embassy seeking help and political asylum.
Vashukevich even offered to turn over the alleged recordings if the US could help secure her release.
“In exchange for help from US intelligence services and a guarantee of my safety, I am prepared to provide the necessary information to America or to Europe or to the country which can buy me out of Thai prison,” she stated.
She later withdrew the offer, suggesting that she and Mr Deripaska had reached an agreement.
Vashukevich and Kirillov initially blamed Russia for their incarceration. They said it was an attempt to silence them and they were fearful for their lives.
In April, however, Vashukevich changed her tune and said it was the US government that was persecuting her, not Russia.
She later told reporters outside a Thai courtroom that she had promised Mr Deripaska she would not speak about the US election interference any more.
The Belarusian native who penned two books about seducing rich, powerful men explained to the AP how she changed her mind about who was to blame for her plight in Thailand.
She said she received multiple visits from Americans with FBI IDs who sought information about her claims of Russian interference in the 2016 US election.
She claims they offered her safety in the US or threatened her with a lengthy prison term if she refused to co-operate.
She credited Vladimir Pronin — Russia’s newly appointed consul in Pattaya — for securing her release from the Thai prison and her deportation in January.
Vashukevich has kept a low profile since her release, a stark contrast to the racy photos that she used to post on Instagram.
On Friday, she would not respond to a question on whether she was currently collaborating with Russian authorities.
Her remarks, however, indicated that she may have traded her silence for security.
“I don’t want to have to have to compare the Russian prison to the Thai prison. I don’t want any more trouble.”
In her old Instagram posts, Vashukevich used to take pride in manipulating rich, powerful men. Asked Friday if she was now the one being manipulated, she swore in English and asked “What do you do?”