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Tsarnev Lawyers Blast Confinement Conditions; Talkative Roommate of FBI-Slain Tsarnaev Acquaintance Arrested

It seems that toward the end of August, after marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had been incarcerated under more or less normal conditions for four months, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz decided that there was danger he would inspire “violent jihad” in others and prevailed upon Attorney General Eric Holder to have the prisoner placed in Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), the protocol used for the likes of the blind sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, which greatly restrict his movement inside prison and his communication with people on the outside, even (or especially) including his attorneys.

That is the upshot of an August 27 memo included as an attachment yesterday, when Tsarnaev’s attorneys filed a motion to vacate the SAMs (h/t patsysvodka).

Ortiz/Holder’s justification for this move included numerous items from the 30-count indictment of Tsarnaev, stated as fact, plus this gem not included in the indictment (because it was pre-Mirandization?)

On or about April 22, 2013, following his capture, Tsarnaev was interviewed by
the FBI. During the interview, Tsarnaev reaffirmed his commitment to jihad and
expressed hope that his actions would inspire others to engage in violent jihad.
There is no indication that Tsarnaev’s intentions have changed since.

In fact that interview, it was subsequently revealed, was conducted over protests that he wanted a lawyer on the part of a Tsarnsaev who had been shot in the mouth, among other places, and was medicated with the powerful drug dilaudid.

But the defense team isn’t having any. From the motion:

Notably absent in the government’s litany is reference to any problematic behavior or efforts to incite others whatsoever in the months after his arrest before SAMs were imposed. The government’s leap to find “substantial risk” that mere “communications or contacts” could “result in death or serious bodily injury” amounts to rank speculation without any basis in fact.

(with a citation to a similar case from 2011).

There is more. Remember that text message Tsarnaev sent to his Kazakh friends that the government has held up as an instruction to them to destroy evidence?

The plain meaning of this alleged text message is that Mr. Tsarnaev gave his friends
permission to take his worldly goods in anticipation of his own arrest or demise.

And this: The August 27 memo expresses concern over Tsarnaev’s “notoreity,” in that he received “nearly one thousand pieces of unsolicited mail” prior to the SAMs. But

The government also fails to mention that none of this unsolicited mail could be characterized as “jihadist” in nature. Rather, it consisted almost entirely of letters and cards from individuals who believe he is innocent and people urging him to repent and convert to Christianity.

(My bet is that the missionaries are a minority of these thousand pieces, meaning that Tsarnaev has more support than many of us had realized.)

The motion also treats quite severe restrictions on the legal team that the SAMs include, which I won’t detail here. Some media treatments of the development yesterday that are worth reading include those of the Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times.

Meanwhile, down in that other frequent haunt of the Boston FBI office, sunny central Florida, on Tuesday a woman who has become a figure of some importance in this matter was arrested.

Tatiana Gruzdeva, the roommate and, she says, girlfriend of an acquaintance of the late Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Ibragim Todashev, who was killed by the Boston FBI in May in murky circumstances, gave an interview to Boston Magazine on September 20. It essentially characterized the Boston FBI’s treatment of Todashev in the days leading up to his death as hounding him. This interview was also covered in a MyFDL post.

Well, Gruzdeva is now being held in the Glades County jail “at the order of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” according to the Boston Globe. According to Gruzdeva herself in a phone call from the jail to Boston Magazine, when she went to the immigration office on Tuesday to sign work papers she was instead arrested and told that she would be deported, precisely because of the interview she gave.

The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is on the case.

It should be noted that if Gruzdeva is indeed to be deported, she could be in that jail for some time, because “non-emergency deportations” are on hold during the current government shutdown.

My inference from all this? The government senses that it is in some kind of crisis in its pursuit of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

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E. F. Beall

E. F. Beall