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FBI tried to contact 'sex coaches' in Thai jail

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) FBI agents have tried to meet a pair of self-styled "sex coaches" detained in a Bangkok jail who claim to have evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, a senior Thai official told CNN.

Belarussian citizens Anastasia Vashukevich and Alexander Kirillov sent a handwritten letter last month to the US Embassy in Bangkok asking for help in getting them released in exchange for information on alleged meddling in the US presidential election.

The FBI agents contacted Thailand's Immigration bureau last week to try to organize the meeting, the highly placed source in the department said.

The request was refused by Thai officials because only legal representatives and family members of the detainees are permitted access to the detainees, added the source, who is not authorized to speak to media.

Asked about the FBI's attempt to meet the pair, a spokesperson for the US embassy in Bangkok referred CNN to a statement released last week.

"We are aware of media reports of this individual's arrest. She is not a US citizen, and we would refer you to Thai law enforcement for further questions," it said.

A screengrab from Vashukevich's instagram account.

Sex training seminar

Vashukevich -- who is widely known by her social media pen-name Nastya Rybka -- and her boyfriend and mentor, Kirillov, who goes by the pseudonym Alex Lesley, were among ten Russian-speaking "sex coaches" arrested on February 25, when Thai police raided their week-long sex training seminar in the resort town of Pattaya.

They claim Russia orchestrated their arrest to stop them from revealing incriminating evidence - which Russia denies.

Vashukevich claims she has proof of Russian interference in the 2016 US election in the form of more than an hour of audio recordings and photos of meetings. None of the alleged recordings or photos of those meetings have been made public.

Vashukevich, who claims to be the former mistress of Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, says she witnessed several meetings in 2016 and 2017 between Deripaska and at least three unnamed Americans.

Deripaska -- who denies any affair -- is a subject of political intrigue in US political circles, owing to his longstanding relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

When he was confronted by CNN last year, Deripaska called allegations that he may have been a back channel from the Kremlin to the Trump campaign "fake news."

A police officer escorts Anastasia Vashukevich from a detention center in Pattaya, south of Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018.

Vashukevich came into the spotlight after publishing footage from social media of a 2016 meeting on a private yacht between Deripaska and Russian deputy prime minister Sergey Prikhodko, during which the two men could be heard discussing Russia's poor relationship with the United States.

Prikhodko has denied multiple requests for comment on these accusations.

Deripaska is an ex-business associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Manafort, who provided investment and consulting services to Deripaska, worked for the Russian billionaire about a decade ago, according to both men.

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny argued the yacht excursion provided evidence of corruption at the highest levels of Russian government -- and serves as a link between Russia and the Trump campaign -- which the Kremlin has repeatedly denied. President Trump has also repeatedly denied there was ever any collusion with Russia.

'Please USA help us'

After her arrest in Pattaya last month, Vashukevich posted a video on her Instagram account recorded inside a police vehicle appealing for help.

"If we go back to Russia we will die in Russian's [sic] prison or they will kill us," she said. "This is very serious ... Please USA help us not to die from Russians!"

Thai officials have not confirmed when the suspects are due to appear in court, but said the police investigation into the group has been completed.

A Thai Immigration Bureau official told CNN that if the group is deported, they will either be sent back to their native country "or a country they want to go to with conditions."