Family of killed Chechen accuses FBI of intimidation

Unarmed Ibragim Todashev, friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was shot dead. Now his friends and family are harassed

Topics: Tatiana Gruzdeva, Ibragim Todashev, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Boston, Florida, Boston Marathon bombing, FBI,

Following the Boston Marathon bombings, Ibragim Todashev — a Florida-based Chechen immigrant and associate of suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev — was shot dead by an FBI agent during questioning, despite being unarmed. Friends and family members of Todasahev have cried foul play in the killing, which the FBI has defended, claiming that the Chechen had “lunged” at the interrogating agent.

Now, according to accusations from Todashev’s loved ones, more and more of his associates have been harassed by the FBI. His girlfriend, for example, was deported to Russia following a two-week stint in isolation at an immigration detention center; according to allegations, the FBI punished Tatiana Gruzdeva for speaking to the media.

Via the Guardian:

[Todashev's] family believe that authorities investigating the Boston bombing have unfairly targeted people close to Todashev. Tatiana Gruzdeva, 20, who lived with Todashev at the apartment in Orlando, Florida, where he was killed, arrived in Moscow on Saturday morning after being deported from the US. Todashev’s father Abdulbaki and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Florida-based Islamic advocacy group representing the family, told the Guardian that the deportation followed months of “hounding” of his son’s friends by federal authorities.

Another roommate, Ashurmamad Miraliev, 20, has been in jail since 18 September on a charge of tampering with a witness in a year-old assault case. The Florida chapter of CAIR said he was denied access to a lawyer. “People who had anything to do with him are being put behind bars. I don’t know why. It’s supposed to be America, it’s supposed to be a democracy,” Abdulbaki Todashev said.

FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said he had no knowledge of Gruzdeva’s deportation and would not comment on CAIR’s claim that Todashev’s friends had been intimidated.

But CAIR communications director Samantha Bowden said Gruzdeva, who is originally from Moldova, was told by FBI agents when she was detained earlier this month that a year’s extension to her visa, granted after her first period in jail, was being rescinded simply because of an interview she gave to a Boston magazine.

Natasha Lennard
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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