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Boston Marathon suspect's lawyers want prison restrictions lifted

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in an undated file photo.
October 3, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Lawyers for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect have asked a judge to lift prison restrictions on their client, saying they were overly harsh.

Wednesday, lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev argued that the restrictions have placed their client in near total isolation, which is impairing their ability to defend him.

According to court documents, the lawyers say the 20-year-old has been confined to his cell except for visits from them. His attorneys say "Special Administrative Measures" were imposed on their client beginning in August, at the request of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz and the approval of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

"SAMs," as they are known, are used in terrorism cases and other high-profile cases when authorities allege there is "substantial risk" that a defendant's communications or contacts with people "could result in death or serious bodily injury" to others.

The measures restrict access to the mail, the media, the telephone and visitors. Attorneys say the special measure limits Tsarnaev's interaction with people who are helping the defense.

Tsarnaev's lawyers say prosecutors have presented no evidence that the special restrictions are needed in his case.

However, in a memo outlining the basis for the restrictions, prosecutors said Tsarnaev "reaffirmed his commitment to jihad and expressed hope that his actions would inspire others to engage in violent jihad" while he was being interviewed by the FBI after he was captured.

"There is no indication that Tsarnaev's intentions have changed since then," prosecutors said in the memo, which was included in the defense motion.

Tsarnaev is accused of building and planting bombs near the finish line of the April 15 marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others.

Authorities say he and his older brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, ethnic Chechens from Russia who came to the United States as children, planned and carried out the attack to retaliate against the U.S. for its involvement in Muslim countries.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed four days after the marathon following a gun battle with police. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found wounded and hiding in a boat in a backyard in Watertown.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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