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Feds Charge Man Who Bought Tsarnaev Brothers Dinner On Night Of Bombing

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AP Photo

Khairullozhon Matanov, a 23-year-old cab driver and resident of Quincy, Mass., was charged with obstructing the investigation of the bombing. The indictment describes in detail Matanov's interactions with both Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the hours and days after the Marathon -- a time when local and federal agents were swarming the Boston area looking for the perpetrators of bombing.

Prosecutors say that Matanov, a citizen of Kyrgyzstan who moved to the U.S. in 2010, was friends with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and that the two discussed "religious topics" and had once hiked a mountain in New Hampshire in order to "train like, and praise, the 'mujahideen.'" (Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the two brothers, died following a shootout with police on April 19 last year. Dzhokhar was arrested later that day, and is currently awaiting trial, where he could face the death penalty.)

Matanov shared a meal with the brothers the night after the bombing, prosecutors say. At 3:31 p.m. on April 15, 2013, just 40 minutes after the bombs had gone off, Matanov allegedly called Tamerlan Tsarnaev and invited him to dinner. Tamerlan accepted, and Matanov bought both brothers dinner at a restaurant that night. At dinner, prosecutors say, the three men discussed the bombing. Tamerlan told Matanov that he did not believe Al Qaeda was responsible, because the terrorist group usually claims credit for its actions.

Over the next few days, Matanov allegedly spoke briefly on the phone several more times with Tamerlan, and tried placing several calls to Dzhokhar. On the night of April 17, Matanov also allegedly visited Tamerlan at his house in Cambridge, Mass., where he interacted with Tamerlan's wife and daughter.

After the FBI released photographs of the brothers on April 18, Matanov read news stories about them, and allegedly realized that authorities were looking for the Tsarnaevs, and would likely want to talk to him. While he eventually went to the police to be interviewed, and agreed to talk to the FBI, he also then began taking steps to "discourage and impede" the investigation, according to the indictment.

The indictment charges Matanov with one count of destroying, altering, and falsifying records, documents, and tangible objects in a federal investigation -- for trying to get rid of information on his computer -- and three counts of making materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements in a federal terrorism investigation.

According to prosecutors, Matanov is facing 20 years in prison for the destruction of evidence charge, and eight years for each false statement count.

Read the indictment:

Matanov Indictment

About The Author

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Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website?s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl@talkingpointsmemo.com