Boston: Lawyers for one of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's friends, who was arrested and charged with aiding the Boston bombings suspect, have sought his release describing him as a "frightened and confused" teenager who did not deliberately lie to investigators.
Robel Phillipos, a resident of Cambridge, is among Tsarnaev's three friends arrested last week who have been accused of covering up for the alleged bomber. "This case is about a frightened and confused 19-year-old who was subjected to intense questioning and interrogation, without the benefit of counsel, and in the context of one of the worst attacks against the nation," said Phillipos' lawyers, Derege B Demissie and Susan B Church, in court papers filed on Saturday, the Boston Herald reported.
They later added, "Mr Phillipos is described as someone who is friendly, mild-mannered, peaceful and respectful of his elders." His lawyers argued Phillipos, who was arraigned last week in federal court on charges of lying to authorities investigating his college friend Tsarnaev, should be released while he awaits trial because he has no prior arrest record and has strong ties to his family, church and community.
A hearing is set on Monday in US District Court. More than a dozen affidavits mostly filed by Phillipos' family members and co-workers of his mother described Phillipos in glowing terms and offered to help his family if he is released from federal custody.
Phillipos is accused of lying about whether he had been in Tsarnaev's dorm room at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth on April 18, three days after the bombings in Boston that killed three people and injured more than 200 others on April 15, in one of the worst terrorist attacks in the US, post-9/11.
On that day, prosecutors allege Phillipos went to Tsarnaev's dorm room with Kazakh nationals Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov who are both in federal custody on charges of taking evidence from the room, including a backpack full of fireworks and a laptop.
Tsarnaev, Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov and Phillipos all 19-year-olds had enrolled at the university in 2011, according to authorities. Phillipos took a leave of absence from school and had not had contact with the other three suspects for more than two months, his lawyers said.
"But by sheer coincidence and bad luck, he was invited to attend a seminar on campus April 18," his lawyers said in the filing. "As such, he did not have much to offer the authorities regarding the investigation of the suspect," they said.