Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, two 19-year old Kazakh students who have been friends with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, whom the government accuses of the Boston marathon explosions, pled not guilty this afternoon to obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, after apparently being held in solitary confinement since their arrest May 1. The charges carry possible penalties of 25 years in prison, a fine, and deportation.
News reports of the plea draw heavily on the August 8 indictment, which cites a April 18 text message from Tsarnaev to Kadyrbayev that said that he could take whatever was in Tsarnaev’s dorm room, but which does not note that this message was preceded by “LOL” and was acknowledged by the FBI at the time as being considered a joke by the friends. For further discussion see my previous post and thread on the subject.
An article in Slate argues that it would be a miscarriage of justice to sentence these young men to long prison terms, and would only reinforce the image of US Attorney Carmen Ortiz “as a wayward prosecutor who time and again goes too far.”