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Tsarnaev defense again calls for limits on FBI monitoring

Lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev complained in court filings late Monday that the FBI has been “needlessly intrusive” in the attorneys’ meetings with the accused Boston Marathon bomber, in spite of the lawyers’ past concerns that the agency’s actions violate his constitutional rights to access to counsel.

The lawyers asked US District Court Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. to set parameters for the FBI in monitoring their meetings with Tsarnaev, saying prosecutors have failed to heed O’Toole’s warnings that the monitoring should be only for proven public safety concerns.

“Defense counsel are thus more convinced than ever of the need for a reasonable degree of privacy and confidentiality for this series of legal visits and request that the court so order,” the lawyers argued.


Tsarnaev, now 20, is being held at the federal prison at Fort Devens in Ayer. He faces the death penalty if convicted of setting off the April 15, 2013, bombs that killed three people and injured more than 260. His older brother and alleged accomplice, Tamerlan, was killed in a confrontation with police in Watertown.

O’Toole first ordered prosecutors at an April 16 hearing to set reasonable parameters for Tsarnaev to meet with his defense team and his two sisters. The defense lawyers argued that they wanted to study the fabric of Tsarnaev’s family, specifically his interactions with his sisters, without government intrusion. The defense is trying to weave the story of Tsarnaev’s family in their case against the death penalty.

The lawyers have indicated that they plan to argue that Tsarnaev was young and susceptible to the influence of his older brother, who was 26 at the time of the bombings.

The defense lawyers said in court filings Friday that prosecutors continue to raise inflated concerns of threats and safety concerns, specifically that there is no reason to believe that terrorists have lost interest in communicating with Tsarnaev.


Prosecutors, say the defense lawyers, have also claimed that his mother has referred to the presence of unspecified friends of his brother during monitored phone calls with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Prosecutors have raised concerns that Tamerlan had been growing more radical in recent years.

The defense team called those concerns baseless.

“Raising such paper-thin concerns about security is a no-lose proposition for the government, because even the flimsiest of arguments, once ominously repeated and amplified by the news media, will inevitably tend to inflame the public’s fear of the defendant,” the lawyers argued. “In sum, the government’s ‘security problem’ turns but to be nothing but unfounded, generic speculation.”

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at mvalencia@
. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.