FILE - In this April 21, 2013 file photo, Maria Butina, leader of a pro-gun organization in Russia, speaks to a crowd during a rally in support of legalizing the possession of handguns in Moscow, Russia.  (AP Photo/File)

MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian gun rights activist convicted in the U.S. of conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent has lashed out at the American justice system.

Maria Butina told reporters in Moscow in a conference call Tuesday from a U.S. jail that "I didn't expect such a severe punishment." They were her first public remarks since she was detained in Washington in July.

Butina complained that she received the same sentence one would receive for selling secret information to China, rather than failing to register for an otherwise legal activity.

She said "it is a great shame on the American justice system."

Butina was sentenced to 18 months in prison by last week. The nine months already spent in detention count toward her eventual release and deportation to Russia.

FILE - This Friday, Aug. 17, 2018 photo provided by the Alexandria, Va., Detention Center shows Maria Butina. (Alexandria Detention Center via AP)