Classmates among 3 taken into custody in marathon bombings
BOSTON/WASHINGTON - Three men were taken into custody in the investigation of last month's deadly Boston Marathon bombing and charged with interfering with the probe, not planning or carrying out the attack, U.S. prosecutors said on Wednesday.
Two of the men were university classmates of 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who last week was criminally charged with planting homemade pressure-cooker bombs at the marathon finish line on April 15 along with his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Massachusetts said on its official Twitter feed that three men will face charges of obstruction of justice and making false statements.
Papers filed in federal court said authorities charged two men, Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, with conspiracy to obstruct justice by throwing away a backpack containing fireworks and a laptop computer belonging to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
U.S. prosecutors also charged a man identified as Robel Phillipos, with making false statements to investigators after the bombings, which killed three people and injured 264 others.
Earlier, a U.S. law enforcement source said that two of the men were being held by immigration officials for violating the terms of their visas.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who attended the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, is being held at a prison hospital where he is recovering from gunshot wound sustained in a gun battle with police. His older brother died in the gunfight.
A Boston Police spokeswoman, Katherine Shea, said on Wednesday that three men were taken into custody but she provided no further details.
Last week law enforcement officials were seen searching dumps in southeastern Massachusetts.
Kadyrbayev's lawyer said his client was being held for violations of his student visa.
The lawyer, Robert Stahl, said his client was "not a target" of the bombing investigation, but declined to comment on any other specifics. He said his client had "cooperated fully" with investigators and "wants to go home to Kazakhstan."
The parents of the Tsarnaev brothers have said in interviews in the North Caucasus region of Russia that they do not believe their sons were responsible for placing the bombs.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body has still not been claimed, a spokesman for the state's chief medical examiner said. His widow, Katherine Russell, on Tuesday said she wanted the medical examiner to release her husband's body to his family.
(Additional reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss, Aaron Pressman and Ross Kerber; Editing by Grant McCool)