FBI agents who interrogated two college friends of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were portrayed by defense attorneys as highly manipulative, using intimidation and false friendliness to coerce two students from central Asia to talk before they realized the legal repercussions.
The behavior of the agents came under scrutiny Wednesday, the second day of a pretrial hearing before US District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock to determine if statements made by Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, two former UMassDartmouth students from Kazakhstan, should be suppressed before their trials because they were not voluntarily made. The two men are accused of obstruction of justice after allegedly trying to hide evidence to protect Tsarnaev while he was on the run April 19.
Under cross-examination by Kadyrbayev’s defense lawyer, FBI agent John Walker acknowledged that both men spent about seven hours on April 19, 2013, shirtless and handcuffed, after being ordered out of their off-campus New Bedford apartment, where agents suspected Tsarnaev might be hiding. Agents ordered the men to remove their shirts during the evacuation, and another agent, Farbod Azad, acknowledged that Kadyrbayev had later asked for a blanket because he was cold, but was not given anything to cover his upper body.
Walker said that Kadyrbayev was viewed April 19 primarily as a witness whom they wanted to question about his ties to Tsarnaev, and that he was free to leave anytime.
“He was a witness you kept restrained and handcuffed?” asked Robert G. Stahl, Kadyrbayev’s attorney.
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