By Mariya Knight, CNN
(CNN) — A former staffer who accused Joe Biden of sexual assault has defected to Moscow, telling state media that she felt “safe” in Russia and would seek citizenship there.
Tara Reade, who drew headlines during the 2020 presidential race by accusing then-candidate Biden of sexually harassing and assaulting her, said she decided to go to Russia after receiving threats in the US.
Biden has strongly denied Reade’s allegations, and no ex-Biden staffer has come forward to say they ever witnessed or heard about any kind of sexual misconduct in his Senate office.
In an interview with MSNBC in 2020, Biden said he is “saying unequivocally, it never, never happened. It didn’t. It never happened.”
Reade later faced credibility questions of her own including about her education and other credentials.
After being out of the headlines for years, Reade turned up in Moscow on Tuesday, where she sat alongside convicted Kremlin spy Maria Butina and answered questions from Russian state media over several hours.
During the news conference, Butina promised to discuss the possibility of granting Russian citizenship to Reade and ask Putin “to fast track her citizenship request.”
Butina was sentenced to 18 months in a US prison in 2019 for conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent, and now serves in the Russian parliament in President Vladimir Putin’s party.
Reade said she decided to come to Russia following death threats she received this year after she reiterated her accusations regarding Biden and announced on Twitter that she was willing “to testify under oath in Congress if asked.”
“When I got off the plane in Moscow, for the first time in a very long time I felt safe, and I felt heard, and I felt respected. That has not happened in my own country,” Reade said.
CNN cannot verify Reade’s claims of receiving threats on her life.
Reade said that “this illusion of Russia as an enemy is propagated by a few Washington elites who are determined to cause problems.”
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