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Tsarnaev defense rejects claim it posed as FBI in Russia

Lawyers say claim is ‘preposterous’

Defense lawyers for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev rejected allegations Monday that they had posed as FBI employees while investigating their client’s background in Russia.

“Let us be clear: At no time have members of the defense team misrepresented themselves or lied about their work,” Tsarnaev’s lawyers wrote in papers filed Monday in US District Court.

The allegation was made by prosecutors in a legal filing last week in US District Court in Boston, where Tsarnaev, 21, faces a possible death penalty for his alleged role in the April 15, 2013, bombings, which killed three people and wounded more than 260.

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The defense attorneys called the claim of misrepresentation “false and facially preposterous.” They said the prosecutors were making “reckless allegations” and had disseminated an “absurd charge.”

“Leaving aside that such conduct is a federal crime punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment, the defense has no motive to lie or impersonate FBI agents and every reason not to,” the defense said.

The defense attorneys said that in countries where “truly independent appointed defense counsel is an unfamiliar concept,” defense attorneys and investigators have to work hard to convince witnesses that the defense team is actually working to help the defendant, rather than assisting the government in executing him.

The filing included a plea by the defense to push back the trial, which is currently slated to begin Nov. 3, saying the defense team needs more time to prepare.

“We have done our best to complete the work required of us in the 8½ months allotted by the court when it set the November 3, 2014, trial date,” the defense team said.

“We must now report that the job has proven too large and the time too short,” the lawyers said. “An extraordinarily aggressive pace of preparation work will still be required, and this case still will be tried much more quickly than the average federal capital case, even with the additional 10 months we have requested. And this case is far from average.

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“More time is needed to ensure basic fairness to the accused,” the defense said. “It is also needed to serve society’s interest in the fullest possible accounting of what happened in Boston during the week of April 15, 2013, and why it happened.”


John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@
globe.com
. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.