Boston Police officers walk past the finish line after the 118th Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014 in Boston.
A 23-year-old taxi driver who was friends with the now-deceased Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been charged with obstructing the investigation of the blasts that killed three and injured 260 at the Boston Marathon last year.
According to the federal indictment, Khairullozhon Matanov was charged with one count of "destroying, altering and falsifying records, documents and tangible objects in a federal investigation" after his arrest on Friday.
Matanov, who is from Kyrgyzstan and legally entered the United States in 2010, has also been charged with three counts of "making a materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statement in a federal investigation involving international and domestic terrorism."
He faces up to 20 years in prison and a potential $250,000 fine.He faces up to 20 years in prison and a potential $250,000 fine.
Another suspect in the bombings, Tamerlan's younger brother Dzhokhar, knew Matanov as well. According to indictment, Matanov took the brothers out to dinner the night of the blasts, but said he did not know about his friends' involvement until photos of the suspects were released days later. The indictment also stated that Matanov discussed and even expressed support for the bombings during dinner with the Tsarnaevs.
The indictment also states that Matanov returned his home with the Tsarnaevs on the night of the bombings. He allegedly said there that "the bombings could have had a just reason, such as being done in the name of Islam, that he would support the bombings if the reason were just or the attack had been done by the Taliban."
After the Tsarnaevs' names and photos were released, Matanov figured the FBI would be knocking at his door, so he began to hide his connection to the brothers. He deleted content on his computer about jihadist calls to violence, as well as anything else that could be used to show his support of the Tsarnaevs' rationale — both of whom had reportedly become radicalized Muslims in the months leading up to the attack.
By deleting material from his computer and removing his Internet history, the indictment says Matanov "obstructed the FBI’s investigation."By deleting material from his computer and removing his Internet history, the indictment says Matanov "obstructed the FBI’s investigation." He also allegedly made several false statements to investigators about his relationship with the two suspected bombers and especially tried to cover up his contact with them in the week following the bombings.
That same week, Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier was killed in an encounter with the Tsarnaevs. Tamerlan was also killed in a shoot-out with police later that night.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested after an extensive search that shut down much of Boston and is now awaiting trial.
Despite Matanov's attempts to erase his connections to the Tsarnaevs, the indictment alleges that he spent time discussing religion with Tamerlan as well as hiking up a mountain in New Hampshire to practice fighting like the mujahideen, a term broadly used to describe Islamic soldiers who engage in guerrilla warfare.
Matanov is now one of five living suspects charged with some connection to the Boston bombings. In addition to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Azamat Tazhayakov, Dias Kadyrbayev and Robel Phillipos have all been charged with taking items from the younger Tsarnaev's room in the days after the explosions.
Tazhayakov, Kadyrbayev and Phillipos were all friends of Dzhokar; they met him at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth in 2011. Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine each if found guilty. Phillipos faces the same fine but a maximum of eight years in jail, as he is also accused of lying to federal agents.
You can read the full indictment of Matanov below.
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