Editor’s Note: Karin Friedemann is a TMO columnist. The views expressed here are her own.
Boston – Accused Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar (Jahar) Tsarnaev’s last pre-trial hearing took place on December 18th. He still resolutely refuses to plead guilty for a crime he claims he did not commit.
Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is shown in a courtroom sketch during a pre-trial hearing at the federal courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts December 18, 2014. REUTERS/Jane Collins
I watched the proceedings in the overflow room and also participated in a protest outside the courthouse, where I was interviewed by reporters from every news channel. I explained to them that I want a fair trial for Jahar. The public deserves to know what really happened and we need to make sure we got the right guy.
If there is evidence that Jahar and his brother Tamerlan had something to do with the Boston Marathon bombings, then the public deserves to know the bigger picture. I am not against executing a cold-blooded killer, but I have a huge problem with a man being executed in order to prevent him from telling the truth of what happened. The government has silenced almost every potential defense witness. Jahar’s friends, relatives, friends of friends and even relatives of friends of friends have been deported, imprisoned and even killed by the FBI. The defense complains that they are having trouble getting anyone to talk due to government intimidation. They also complain that the prosecution is being evasive instead of presenting clear arguments as to why they believe he is the bomber. They don’t seem to want to unravel the mystery.
Erroneous media reports based on alleged leaks from anonymous law enforcement officials have been presented to the public in lieu of evidence, and have greatly biased the jury pool against the defendant before he has even gone to trial.
As to whether or not I personally think he’s innocent, I would say, based on past prosecutions by US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s team in front of the same Judge O’Toole, that it is highly probable that the young man is simply a victim of anti-Islamic prejudice.
For example, Tarek Mehanna was sentenced to over 17 years for joking comments he made on the internet, which the government misconstrued as planning to commit terrorist acts. His trial was based on highly inflammatory statements against the Islamic religion, irrelevant evidence such as beheading videos, expert testimony from career neocons, and plea bargains from acquaintances who were facing decades in prison unless they testified against Mehanna.
Because of negative media coverage, during the time of the trial, many people in the Muslim community refused to stand up for their brother and spent energy distancing themselves from him. It was only after sentencing that he was allowed to speak out about his unjust conviction.
In Jahar’s case, he is not just accused of thought crimes but actual explosions that killed and maimed people. If he is innocent, then the real bomber is still at large. In the worst-case scenario, Jahar was chosen as a fall guy to cover up for a plot that is much more sinister.
So far, there have been no bomb making materials found in either his home nor that of his brother. The government has never once claimed in any legal document that the seized fireworks, which Jahar’s friends took out of his dorm room, were used to make bombs. The government prosecuted the friends for lying about throwing away the fireworks, in order to pressure them to testify against their friend. The “link” between the bombing and the fireworks was merely inferred by media reports.
Likewise, though Jahar’s friend Stephen Silva pled guilty to gun possession, court documents do not clearly link this gun to Tamerlan Tsarnaev or the killing of MIT police officer Sean Collier. Media reports state that the gun is “believed” to be the gun used by Tamerlan to shoot Collier. This is all just carefully worded, intellectually dishonest media hype.
I don’t know if the truth will ever come out in this courtroom. It is not being played as a straightforward prosecution. The government is playing chess, not proving their point.
Hearing after hearing, the defense has begged the prosecution to present their argument. Instead, the government has dumped on them millions of pages of unsearchable computer records without any explanation as to their significance. Assistant U.S. Attorney William Weinreb has consistently argued, with a smirk on his face, that if the government were to present their case to the defense, the defense would be able to come up with a counter-argument, which would be unfair to prosecutors; therefore they need to keep the element of surprise.
Yet at the same time, the government has been illegally feeding news stories to the media. The defense complained that they are learning more about the government’s narrative from the television than they are getting from the US attorneys. The government is not playing fair, which leads to the question of whether it is covering up the truth.
In 95% of cases since 9/11, where Muslims are accused of terrorism related acts, the FBI has been involved. We need to know more about the extent of FBI involvement in the Boston Marathon bombing suspects’ lives. His mother stated to reporters last year that the FBI had been interviewing Tamerlan on a regular basis for two years before the bombing. He had been asked to become an informant. They knew him well.
Based on the above, the most likely scenario is either that Tamerlan bombed the marathon as an employee of the FBI, or else that he was framed for a crime he did not commit in retaliation for refusing to become an informant for the FBI.
I don’t want to live in a country where the FBI can just come into your house and murder you because you knew somebody, where they can just accuse you of a bombing and then, instead of presenting evidence in a court of law, make up TV docu-dramas about you without even consulting you for your side of the story.
Perhaps it’s not as important to ordinary Americans that their government obey the rule of law, but as someone whose parents came to this country and swore their allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, I see no other possible course of action other than standing up and fighting for what my country supposedly stands for.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is an American citizen with rights. He came to this country as a refugee. He loved living here. He had many friends, no criminal record, and absolutely no motive to hurt anyone.
“When you cheer for the erosion of Dzhokhar Tsarnaevs rights, you’re cheering for the erosion of your own,” wrote Glenn Greenwald.
If more people don’t stand up for Jahar, next week it could be your son.