Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has “gained widespread notoriety” and received nearly 1,000 pieces of unsolicited mail while in federal custody, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. wrote in a late August memo in which he approved special restrictions on Tsarnaev’s confinement.
But defense attorneys, who are arguing for the restrictions to be eased, said the government failed to mention that Tsarnaev had not responded to the mail.
“The government also fails to mention that none of this unsolicited mail could be characterized as ‘jihadist’ in nature. Rather, it consisted almost entirely of letters and cards from individuals who believe he is innocent and people urging him to repent and convert to Christianity,” the defense attorneys said in a filing Wednesday.
Tsarnaev, 20, is being held at a federal prison at the former Fort Devens. He faces charges that could bring him the death penalty for allegedly placing the twin bombs that exploded April 15 near the Boston Marathon finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others. Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, 26, also are accused of killing an MIT police officer as they tried to escape the area.
In a 17-page ruling issued in late August, Holder found that the special restrictions should be placed on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s access to the mail, the media, the telephone, and visitors because of “Tsarnaev’s proclivity for violence” and the “substantial risk that his communications or contacts with persons could result in death or serious bodily injury to persons.”
Defense attorneys argued that the restrictions on Tsarnaev impaired their ability to represent him and that his rights to due process, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association were being violated.