The father of one of the two Kazakh students charged with obstructing the Boston Marathon bombing investigation is fighting to have his son released.
Amir Ismagulov told the Associated Press that his son, 19-year-old Azamat Tazhayakov,”would never intend to do anything bad to people in the United States.”
“Azamat loves the United States and the people of the United States,” Ismagulov told the AP. His son’s Russian-speaking lawyer, Arkady Bukh, translated during the interview. “He is not aggressive. He is not a terrorist. He is a simple boy.”
Tazhayakov and 19-year-old Dias Kadyrbayev, who’s also from Kazakhstan, are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice by conspiring to destroy, conceal and cover up tangible evidence in the case.
Federal authorities say the two UMass Dartmouth students removed a backpack containing hollowed-out fireworks and a laptop from marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s dorm room three days after the explosions, after the FBI released photos of Tsarnaev and his brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
The brothers are accused of detonating two homemade bombs at the Boston Marathon finish line on April 15. Three people were killed and 264 hurt. The pair also allegedly killed an MIT police officer April 18 before leading authorities on a pursuit to Watertown. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in the confrontation with police.
Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev allegedly threw Tsarnaev’s backpack in the Dumpster at their New Bedford apartment. Authorities later retrieved it from a landfill. His lawyer says Tazhayakov turned the laptop over to investigators and has been cooperating.
The two students face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. They also could be deported for staying in the U.S. with invalid student visas.
Tazhayakov’s father told the Boston Globe he traveled to Boston from Kazakhstan on April 25, five days after his son was arrested on immigration violations. Ismagulov said Tazhayakov repeatedly told him that he had nothing to do with the bombing and didn’t know Tsarnaev was involved.
According to Ismagulov, Tazhaykov said Tsarnaev is “not a human” if he was responsible for the attacks.
Ismagulov said he’s laid flowers at the makeshift memorial in Copley Square dedicated to the bombing victims at his son’s request, who asked him “to express condolences to innocent people who were hurt and killed.”
Tazhayakov and Kadyrnayev are due back in court May 14.
A third UMass Dartmouth student, 19-year-old Robel Phillipos of Cambridge, is charged with willfully making materially false statements to federal law enforcement officials during a terrorism investigation. He was released on bail Monday and will serve house arrest until his trial.
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