Tsarnaev's attorneys argue prison restrictions should be eased

Oct. 3, 2013 at 7:29 AM
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BOSTON, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Lawyers for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a judge to ease prison restrictions, saying nothing indicated Tsarnaev still poses a threat.

The attorneys argued Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. had no basis to order special administrative measures for Tsarnaev in August, saying there wasn't evidence Tsarnaev posed a threat of violence or to security and arguing the restrictions inhibited their client's communications with his family and legal team, the Boston Globe reported Wednesday.

"The government has not alleged that Mr. Tsarnaev has done or said anything since his arrest to commit violence, incite violence, or engage in communications that pose a security threat," lawyers argued in their federal court filing Wednesday, calling the measures "unlawful and unwarranted."

Federal prosecutors have not responded.

Tsarnaev, now 20, faces 30 charges, including several terrorism charges, in the April 15 twin bombings near the marathon's finish line that killed three people and injured more than 260. Authorities also allege he killed Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier. His brother and alleged accomplice, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in a shootout with police and died after he was run over by a car driven by his brother.

Holder, when he ordered the Bureau of Prisons to enact the measures at the request of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz of Massachusetts, said the restrictions were "reasonably necessary to prevent the inmate from committing, soliciting, or conspiring to commit additional criminal activity," records made public Wednesday indicated.

A memo approved by Holder said Tsarnaev, a Chechen immigrant, got rid of key evidence after the attack by "discarding a remaining bomb detonator and smashing his cellphones," the Los Angeles Times reported.

Prosecutors said Tsarnaev told investigators after the bombings he was inspired by terrorist groups and he hoped to inspire others, the now-public documents indicated.

They also said Tsarnaev's mother taped a telephone conversation with him and played it for Russian media to try to "engender sympathy" for him, among other things.

Tsarnaev's lawyers said in their filing: "While the government may not want anyone to feel sympathy for Mr. Tsarnaev, that is not a proper basis to impose [the measures]."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts supported the defense request, saying in a statement the restrictions "threaten our Constitution's guarantees of due process and effective assistance of counsel in this and all cases."

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