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Boston Bombing News: Matanov, McPhee, and media leaks

In a kind of déjà vu, the defense again has filed a new motion to address leaks from law enforcement sources to the media (the 3rd, the 4th? – I stopped counting), this time in reference to a new piece of Michele McPhee published in the Boston Magazine: “Inside the mind of a killer”

Obviously, the defense completely has lost the respect toward judge George O’Toole and decided to expose his lack of independence from and authority over any government agency. It is doubtful that he will arrange a hearing this time, and the defense certainly doesn’t expect him to do that. Nevertheless, the position of O’Toole continues to erode while his chances to achieve a prominent place in the US judicial history improve – not to his advantage however. He is already regularly mocked by lawyers like Harvey Silverglate and journalists like James Henry.

McPhee’s article is little more than an excerpt from FBI interviews with Khairullozon Matanov in the aftermath of the Marathon bombings. Like the 302 reports, these “proffer” reports are written by a FBI agent based on interviews, with all the uncertainties that come along with indirect quotes. The interviews have presumably not been recorded.

So what motivation had the FBI to show McPhee these reports? Nothing in there to incriminate Matanov, and the alleged remarks by Tamerlan and Dzohkhar are way too vague to allow for any insight whether they were the perpretators. Surely, McPhee did them a favor by placing the “heartless killer” narrative right in the headline – but is that all?

Matanov is, without doubt, an extremely important witness, even more than the other Tsarnaev friends, for the simple fact that he met them hours after the bombings and talked with them. Prosecution and defense are both interested in any signs or mentions that the brothers “did it”, respectively the lack of these. Actually, given the article’s content, there doesn’t seem to be much meat to the bones.

One year after talking to the FBI, Matanov was suddenly arrested in May 2014, for some alleged misdeeds that were already known to the FBI in 2013. There must be a reason, and the FBI has still to explain this lengthy delay.

Speculation: has Matanov contacted the defense or vice versa? Does he know something about TT’s connection to FBI and/or CIA? Does he belong to the group of defense witnesses which the FBI approached (“descended”) in order to intimidate and silence them?

Or was it just a spontaneous action of the FBI with the intention to press him to testify against DT? This interpretation implies a FBI desperately seeking for incriminating material.

In either case, Matanov’s arrest doesn’t bear witness of a sovereign government administering a slam-dunk case. He looks like a witness for the defense rather than the prosecution. And maybe the reason for the leaking was just to counter this impression.

 

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