Suspects’ Friend Accused of Hindering Boston Bombing Inquiry

May 30, 2014

BOSTON — A citizen of Kyrgyzstan who federal prosecutors said bought dinner for the two brothers accused of the Boston Marathon bombing on the night of the attack was charged Friday with obstructing the investigation into the bombing.

Investigators said the Kyrgyzstani man, Khairullozhon Matanov, a 23-year-old taxi driver who lives in Quincy, Mass., had social ties to the suspects in the bombing, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, according to court documents, but lied to investigators about aspects of that friendship and of his communication with the brothers in the days following the bombing.

Mr. Matanov was charged in Federal District Court with four total counts of destroying, altering and falsifying records, documents and tangible objects in a federal investigation, and making false statements in a federal terrorism investigation.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, was charged last summer in a sweeping federal indictment in connection with the bombings, which killed three people and wounded more than 260. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed after being shot by the police and run over by his brother during a manhunt.

Mr. Matanov and Tamerlan Tsarnaev had become friends, the indictment said, discussing religion and even climbing a mountain in New Hampshire “in order to train like, and praise, the ‘mujahedeen,’ ” which is a term referring to those who struggle on behalf of Islam, and can also refer to specific Islamic militant groups.

The indictment may shed new light on the actions of the Tsarnaev brothers in the days after the bombings.

Investigators said that Mr. Matanov saw Tamerlan Tsarnaev at least twice after the bombings, and bought both brothers dinner at a restaurant on April 15, hours after the bombs went off, but lied to officials about how that dinner came about. He is not charged with participating in the bombings and is not accused of knowing about them ahead of time. Mr. Matanov told a friend the bombings might have been justified if they were in the name of Islam, according to the indictment.

Mr. Matanov will be held by federal marshals until a detention hearing scheduled for Wednesday. If convicted on all four counts, he could face up to 44 years in prison.