BOSTON — A Quincy taxi driver who was friends with the Boston Marathon bombing suspects was charged Friday with obstructing the bombing investigation.
Khairullozhon Matanov, 23, is accused of deleting, in the days after the bombing, information from his computer that could have been helpful to investigators, and for making false statements to investigators.
Matanov, a legal U.S. resident and citizen of Kyrgyzstan, was indicted Friday on one count of destroying, altering and falsifying records, documents and tangible objects in a federal investigation, and three counts of making materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statements. He was arrested Friday morning in Quincy.
Matanov appeared in court hours later, and after a brief hearing was held without bail. His lawyer, Edward Hayden, said his client faces “unsubstantiated allegations” and didn’t intend to mislead the FBI.
“From what it appears in that affidavit, he didn’t materially mislead them,” Hayden said outside the courthouse.
According to the indictment, Matanov lied to investigators about the extent of his friendship with Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The indictment says Matanov called Tamerlan some 40 minutes after the bombing and went to dinner with the brothers that night.
The U.S. attorney’s office says Matanov is not accused of participating in the bombing or of knowing about it in advance.
Matanov allegedly told an unnamed witness that he could support the bombing if it had a “just reason,” like having been done in the name of Islam, the indictment said.
“Matanov continued to express support for the bombings, although later that week he said that maybe the bombings were wrong,” the indictment said.
The maximum sentence for destruction of evidence is 20 years in prison and eight years for each false statement count, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
With some reporting by The Associated Press
– Here’s the indictment (via Scribd):