Tamerlan Tsarnaev Was Approached To Be An Informant, Defense Says

Defense lawyers for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev say the FBI had asked his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, to inform on Boston's Chechen and Muslim community.

In court filings Friday, defense attorneys reference a letter sent to prosecutors last February, in which they allege "the FBI made more than one visit to talk with Anzor, Zubeidat [Dzhokhar and Tamerlan's parents] and Tamerlan, questioned Tamerlan about his internet searches, and asked him to be an informant, reporting on the Chechen and Muslim community."

Prosecutors say they found no evidence that Tamerlan was solicited by the government to be an informant. Defense attorneys insist prosecutors have that evidence, and are asking a judge to force them to turn it over.

Defense attorneys argue in the same letter that Tamerlan may have misinterpreted the visits, calling the discussions a "stressor that increased his paranoia and distress." They say they are not suggesting that the contacts are to be blamed for the April attacks.

With the recent filings, Dzhokhar's lawyers also seem poised to argue that Tamerlan had sway over his younger brother, supplying the motivation and ideology behind the bombings.

For that reason, they're asking for all information about Tamerlan — who was killed in a shootout with police in Watertown five days after the bombings — that could help them argue against the death penalty for Dzhokhar.

In addition to information about visits from the FBI, defense lawyers are asking for all documents from the interview with Ibragim Todashev, in which he allegedly admitted to participating alongside Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a gruesome triple murder in Waltham in 2011.

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Rachel Paiste News Writer
Rachel Paiste is a news writer and editor at WBUR.



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