Return to Transcripts main page
Three People In Custody On Boston Case; Suspects Accused Of Obstructing Justice; New Details In Complaint Against New Suspects
Aired May 1, 2013 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brooke Baldwin live here in Boston. I want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Welcome to CNN's special coverage of the breaking developments in the Boston marathon terror attack.
We begin with three more people now in custody of the FBI, arrested today in this Boston bombing case. They are due in federal court any minute. We have cameras there. We will show that to you live. Here's what we know as of this point in time. These are all very fluid new details coming into us here at CNN.
Two of them are from Kazakhstan. Here they are. They were college classmates of the younger brother here, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, attending classes at UMass Dartmouth. Seen here, we keep showing you this picture, this is a picture taken in Times Square during a trip to New York City, along with the bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, second to the right there.
Their charges, making false statements to federal authorities, and conspiracy to obstruct justice. We also have new pictures of both the suspects. So the suspects' names are Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev. The other student arrested, his Facebook page lists him as an engineering student. The third suspect, not in this photograph, is a U.S. citizen.
We still have no more details about this particular person. You know we're digging. As soon as we get information, we'll pass it along to you. But I want to begin this hour with CNN's Pamela Brown. She is not too far from where I am here at Boston at the federal courthouse. Pamela, what are you learning?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, we just learned from the U.S. Attorney's Office that there will be a 3:30 hearing at the federal courthouse involving these three suspects arrested in connection with the Boston bombing. We're hearing that that hearing is going to be in courtroom 19.
We have seen several Department of Homeland Security agents here at federal courthouse, outside of the courthouse, also inside, in full gear. This is something you don't typically see at the federal courthouse.
Now, we have learned from sources that the two -- two of the suspects, Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov are the same two students from Kazakhstan originally taken into custody April 19th in New Bedford and released a few days later they were taken back into custody for violating their student visas according to sources.
Now we know they were being held on immigration charges, but authorities are using this as an opportunity to question the suspects regarding what they knew about their friend, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and whether they helped him carry out the attack according to authorities.
Now, according to CNN's Susan Candiotti, a law enforcement source says charges against the two students involved something when they were first questioned about allegedly not knowing the whereabouts of the brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and not seeing the suspects after the Boston marathon attack.
The charge of conspiring to obstruct justice relates to removing items from Dzhokhar's dorm room and throwing them into a dumpster. According to sources, those objects were disposed of include fireworks and a trash bin, that trash bin was taken to a land fill. We talked about that search at that land fill last weekend, it was a two-day search involving FBI investigators.
We don't have specifics about the charges for the third suspect. All we know at this point is that the third suspect that was arrested in connection with the Boston bombing attack is a U.S. citizen. And we're hearing from one of the students' attorneys, though, that that third suspect was a student at UMass Dartmouth. Again, 3:30 hearing, here at the federal courthouse today, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: OK, Pamela Brown, stand by there. Again, these are federal charges, hence the federal courthouse here in Boston. For more on the chronology and details and the tick tack as we say, I want to go to Jake Tapper who is now in Washington for some new details on these developments today.
And, Jake, you're talking to these two government sources and I want you to specifically talk about this window when according to your sources some of these suspects apparently were contacted by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after Monday's Boston bombings here on Boylston Street.
JAKE TAPPER, HOST, CNN'S "THE LEAD": That's right, Brooke. It is an interesting window because what one U.S. government source tells me is that the three suspects that have been picked up for obstruction of justice claim that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev contacted them and asked them to dispose of these items, the laptop, and the fireworks, that were his, that you might remember a few days ago law enforcement was looking for in that land fill near UMass Dartmouth.
But what law enforcement say is significant is -- significant is the fact that this request was made sometime between the release of the photograph of the suspects on Thursday, April 18th, just a few days after the terrorist attacks and the early morning of Friday, April 19th, when the names of the suspects were released into the public.
And this window is when this contact was made according to my government -- the government official that I spoke with, and that's one of the reasons why law enforcement is -- that the three individuals had no idea that their friend Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and fellow classmate was being sought by law enforcement.
His name was not out there, but his picture was, and as you know, you and I covered this extensively, the older brother did not look like himself, he had shaved his beard, had sunglasses, hat was on forward, but Dzhokhar, everybody who knew Dzhokhar recognized him in that picture. He was very recognizable.
BALDWIN: Yes, obvious questions, you know, and obviously, if you're going to get a phone call from someone, someone asks you to dispose of something, you're thinking questions like why, and what potentially have you done, all questions we know investigators were asking of these young suspects.
My other question to you, Jake, in reading what you have been learning, one of these government sources of yours said, at some point in time with regard to one of the younger suspects, one student at UMass Dartmouth, bells should have been going off. Why?
TAPPER: Well, there are a couple of incidents where this -- we've talked about this over the last couple weeks, Brooke, the issue of information sharing and how much law enforcement agencies are sharing information. One of the issues, Pamela just touched upon, that's the fact that the FBI was interviewing these three students the night after Dzhokhar was identified.
Friday night, April 20th, into Saturday morning. And the immigration officials did not know about those interviews, so wasn't until later that they went back and detained two of them who are not in this country legally. They were not of legal status, but then here is the other issue.
One of these Kazakh students, I believe his name is Azamat Tazhayakov, Azamat, he went back to Kazakhstan, according to a government official, in December 2012, he returned in January. But in between his going to Kazakhstan and his return on January 20th, the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth said he was no longer a student.
On January 3rd he was no longer of legal status. So what a government official said to me is he should never have been admitted back into the country. January 3rd, his student visa expired or should have expired because he was no longer legally a student and on January 20th, somehow he still made his way back in.
So even though law enforcement and government officials are cautioning these three individuals are wanted for activities after the terrorist attack and so far no evidence that they knew anything about the attacks before they happened, there are questions about why this young man was supposed -- was allowed to come back into the country, even though he did not have a legal reason to be here -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Jake Tapper, thank you so much. As you get more information, let us know, we'll put you back on TV. Now according to a source, police caught on to one of the students facing charges after he made a change on his Facebook page of all places. Deborah Feyerick is covering that angle for us today in New York -- Deb? DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And, Brooke, one thing we do want to say is we just received a copy of the criminal complaint against Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov. We are being told right now that they're going to be charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice by conspiring to destroy, conceal and cover up tangible objects belonging to suspected marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, namely a laptop computer and a backpack containing fireworks.
Earlier we've reported they were looking for a black backpack that was believed to belong to him. They didn't know what happened to that or to Tsarnaev's computer. And the third man, that is still under seal, but that's what we're being told in terms of these two Kazakh students.
And also, in the criminal complaint, they released a picture, hard to make out, but it is in the criminal complaint and you can see some of the fireworks, which they believe belonged to Tsarnaev. There are some pictures of him seen shooting off roman candles.
So, again, that appears to be what they're going to be charging him with. We do want to talk about one of the suspects, Dias Kadyrbayev. He attended UMass, close to the 19-year-old bomb suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. They knew each other. They were seen in multiple photographs together.
From the very beginning, he was of keen interest to investigators. And one of the reasons is because of a timeline of events that happened related to his Facebook page. Now, Kadyrbayev was taken into custody on April 19th, before Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was ever found, was ever arrested, but this young man, this Kazakh was taken in for questioning, questioned for about ten hours according to his lawyer.
FBI agents picked him up and handcuffed him and really he was wearing a sweatshirt and boxer pants as what we see in the picture, the reason, again, going back to his Facebook page. At about 3:00 in the morning, he deletes a photograph of both him and the 19-year-old bomb suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
They were seen arm and arm around a table and appeared they were having dinner. Well, for some reason, this young man deletes that particular Facebook photograph. Then, a little later on, in the morning, again, we're talking about nobody knows where this 19-year- old kid is, we don't know he's in the boat yet, apparently two things happen.
And this is a picture that was deleted off the Facebook account. Another thing that happens is in the very early morning hours, within a 15-minute period, both of those individuals change their Facebook photographs. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev changes his to sort of this iconic black and white photo that we have been seeing.
But that young man, Dias, he changes his photograph to one where you can't even see his face, he's wearing an iron man mask. All of that raises keen suspicions among investigators. When you look at Dias' Facebook page, also he says that not that he attended UMass Dartmouth, but he attended on his Facebook page MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He was scheduled, he says his class 2016 and he's an engineering student and clearly that was of keen importance to investigators because they -- you know, there was a theory that somebody helped them build this bomb and build it successfully -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Deborah, as you've been speaking, we have been showing some of the pictures you've been alluding to on the left-hand side of the screen. If I can, just quickly, go back to the picture you showed briefly earlier from this criminal complaint, a picture of the fireworks that are in question. Forgive me, I didn't fully hear you. Was there anyone in the picture? Did I hear you say Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in the photograph?
FEYERICK: No, this is the picture. You can see it right there. You can see it right there. But remember they found pyrotechnics in the dorm room that belonged to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. There was a black backpack that he had been seen with, but nobody could find in the dorm room. So that was missing as was the computer.
But what we can tell you is that the three -- the three men are being charged or sorry -- the two students from Kazakhstan are being charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, by conspiring to destroy, conceal and cover up tangible objects belonging to the suspected marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
So that's what they're being charged with. And initially one of the lawyers said it is just an immigration charge, but clearly these steps up to a whole new level -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Absolutely, just seeing the pictures here, this is the first time we're seeing these images of these fireworks. It is stunning, from this criminal complaint. Deborah Feyerick, thank you so much.
We're going to stay on this angle, specifically talk about these charges and these students who again will be walking in a federal courtroom, not too far from where I stand in Boston. When it comes to the fireworks here, as we talk about the federal charges, how might this impact this case legally speaking? I got some of the top legal minds to parse through that on the other side of this break. Stay right here with me.
BALDWIN: Welcome back here. I'm Brooke Baldwin live in Boston. Breaking developments now that we're two and a half weeks out after the fatal bombing, just up the street from us here at the finish line at the Boston marathon. Four people in the end killed, three here at the blast and one MIT police officer.
Today the news, these three suspects, these young people, two of whom from Kazakhstan, one an American, are now charged, facing federal charges, will be appearing at a federal courthouse in just about an hour from now.
We have gotten our hands on this criminal complaint including Joe Johns who has been reading through this thing. And, Joe, I understand as we have been getting all this information about these two Kazakh students at UMass Dartmouth, we now know the name and can report the name of the third suspect, this American.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That is correct. And I just sort of wanted to start at the beginning here, also, Brooke, to give you some sense of what these documents are saying. This is the criminal complaint that has been put in by the FBI agent who essentially has all the information to allege certain things happened, certain crimes.
And what is fascinating about all of this is they start on right around the time of the bombing. The complaint says that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was living in the dormitory with these characters, Kadyrbayev and the other. The FBI apparently searched the room, finding among other things BBs, a large pyrotechnic and a black jacket, and a white hat of the same appearance as those worn by bomber two at the Boston marathon on April 15th.
On April 18th, then, the pictures are released of the alleged bombers in the case. And Kadyrbayev actually texted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and said you look like a suspect on television. There is some jokes that ensue and he said come to my room and take what you want. You better not text me.
There is that kind of conversation going back and forth. Between 6:00 and 7:00 on April 18th, apparently the Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov and Phillipos, this third suspect we've been talking about, actually went to Tsarnaev's dormitory room, Tsarnaev's roommate left them in.
They looked around, they noticed a backpack containing fireworks, fireworks had been opened and emptied of powder, Kadyrbayev knew by then that Tsarnaev was allegedly involved in the marathon bombing. Kadyrbayev, it says, these are all allegations.
Of course, decided to remove the backpack from the room in order to help his friend Tsarnaev avoid trouble. And so apparently he did that, and after a certain period of time, they apparently decided Kadyrbayev did, to throw the backpack with the fireworks inside away and Tazhayakov agreed according to this document.
Kadyrbayev apparently, it says, was the one who threw the backpack in the garbage. And the last time they actually saw it was when a garbage truck came to their apartment complex to empty the dumpster where the backpack had been discarded.
And now we get a very briefly to the false statements questions, in an interview with federal agents, the individual named Phillipos, the third suspect, essentially said that, you know, he was shocked when he saw Tsarnaev, and apparently at that time they got the full statements in, given to the FBI.
And on -- during a fourth interview that occurred on April 26th of 2013 it was Phillipos who this document says confessed that he had lied to agents about the things that had transpired. So in a nut shell, that's how you get the allegations of taking evidence after the fact and doing away with it. And then the ensuing allegations of lies that bring these false statement charges -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: OK, Joe Johns, want to let you keep reading and going through all these page after page here, but so here you have it, sort of the timeline. I want to bring in Ashleigh Banfield and Professor Alan Dershowitz, prominent defense attorney and Harvard Law professor. So welcome.
I know you thought this would be a quiet day for you. Not so much. Here we have it. This acknowledgement now, this back and forth between some of these dorm roommates of the younger suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and even hearing Joe reading from his criminal complaint that one of them actually acknowledges via text message, gosh, you look like the guy on TV. What is your first reaction when you're hearing all these details?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, it sounds like a very, very solid case of obstruction of justice and helping to get rid of what is the most important piece of evidence imaginable, a computer. A computer tells them what happened before and also tells them what could be happening afterward.
Were there any contacts with people in Russia? Were there any contacts with other people? That might all be on the computer. Were there plans for other events? Was that photograph of Times Square just a photograph or were they planning something in Times Square?
All of these things might be on the computer. Nothing could be more important. And when somebody tells you to help get rid of a computer, you clearly even know or should know, you have wilful blindness if you don't ask why are you getting rid of this computer, people just don't throw their computers away and fireworks.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But is it your duty, your legal duty. Much like we don't have a legal duty to respond to a legal crime in action, is it your legal duty to ask why am I doing this?
DERSHOWITZ: It is in this respect. The concept of wilful blindness is you can't fail to inquire in order to deny yourself the knowledge that would make it a crime. So if somebody tells you something and you wilfully say I don't want to know. I don't want to know, that may turn it into a crime. There's no affirmative duty to report a crime generally, but you certainly can't help somebody cover up a crime.
BANFIELD: I want to just direct your attention to something on page 13 of the complaint, forgive me for interrupting, only because we're reading this live as this is coming into our hands and that is that the young man named Phillipos.
BALDWIN: The American.
BANFIELD: Robel Phillipos, forgive me, if I'm not getting the pronunciation right, apparently stated that once at the apartment, he, Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov, quote, "started to freak out because it became clear from a CNN report that we were watching that Dzhokhar was one of the Boston marathon bombers."
So the fact that he was seeing this live broadcast of his friend and the other two were well aware of what was going on according to the complaint that gives you less pause to think they may not have known what they were up to.
DERSHOWITZ: I think what we're hearing, the way I read the complaint, is maybe he changed his mind halfway through and started to cooperate and said, look, I lied previously, so we may be dealing with somebody who is already actively cooperating and now turning in some of the other people acknowledging that what he did was wrong, and that he lied.
So we may begin to see cooperation and what you see is dominos. When one guy cooperates against the other, the second guy says, I don't want to take the rap, I'm going to cooperate and the third guy cooperates.
BALDWIN: Bringing everyone in.
BANFIELD: The closest to the table --
DERSHOWITZ: The first guy in gets the best treatment. Remember, the government has a lot of flexibility with the first two because they're not Americans. They can be deported. They probably would like to be deported at this point, considering the alternatives. That might be a plea barring than could be struck. The American, of course, can't be deported, he can only prosecuted or a deal can be made with him.
BALDWIN: Let me jump in. Former student of yours on the phone, our senior legal analyst, Jeff Toobin, you've been listening to your professor and Ashleigh here and reading through this criminal complaint as well. Your reaction, Jeff?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST (via telephone): My reaction is, how can human beings be so stupid? You read through this complaint and you think, this is how you react to the suspicion that your roommate may be involved in one of the most notorious crimes in American history? You start disposing of his belongings?
I mean, it is just so astonishing. But my other reaction is as serious and as mind boggling as this crime is it does not suggest that anyone else was involved in the conspiracy to do the bombs in the first place. And I think that's what everyone is most interested in. Did the conspiracy extend beyond the two brothers? There is no evidence presented here that that was the case and I do think that's significant.
DERSHOWITZ: In fact, it shows quite the opposite. It shows lack of planning, that they have to at the last minute call friends in the dorm and say, quick, quick, get rid of this, get rid of that. There was no planning, no exit strategy, no friends will come and do this and that, it really does seem to show that we have two people involved, originally, and then these others become accessories after the fact.
BALDWIN: Before what happens here two Mondays ago and the planning that went into what seemed to be a pretty sophisticated and successful detonation of the two different bomb and then the after the fact, the lack of -- the stupidity of what happened afterwards. And now seemingly according to the allegations grabbing some college buddies.
BANFIELD: The after the fact is critical. Knowing for a moment the suggestion that these three suspects had anything to do with the bombings, charges are -- they always reserve the right to pile on charges after the initial phases.
However, what is critical to see as well that the penalties that are attached to these particular crimes are not the same. And not each of these suspects is facing the same thing. Two of them are facing charges relating to actually destroying or obstructing.
BALDWIN: In addition to lying to investigators.
BANFIELD: I'm not clear on that. Definitely destroying the evidence and obstructing justice in that way in a conspiracy. But the third, and that's Phillipos is being charged with lying to investigators because he allegedly knew --
DERSHOWITZ: In a terrorist investigation so that's mentioned as well. You know, our statutes are often irrational. Obviously getting rid of evidence, getting rid of evidence is a far more serious crime than simply lying to an FBI agent in general.
BANFIELD: Five years for obstruction.
DERSHOWITZ: It may be because it is during the terrorist investigation one has to look at the statute to see whether there say bump up in penalties. You know, when Martha Stewart was convicted of lying to agents, she got a much shorter sentence than that because there wasn't anything to compound that.
BANFIELD: An eight-year maximum for the lying and a five-year maximum for the destruction of evidence is by no means anywhere near what Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is facing right now, which could be the death penalty and just beneath that life in prison with no chance of ever leaving on parole.
BALDWIN: Professor, thank you.
DERSHOWITZ: Well, there's enormous difference, obviously, between the quality of their crimes, one ended up killing people and the other was a cover-up.
BALDWIN: Absolutely. Professor, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Ashleigh Banfield, don't go too far.
BANFIELD: I got a lot of reading ahead of me.
BALDWIN: We continue covering this breaking news. We're still going through the criminal complaint, a lot of details in these pages. We've reporters doing this including Ashleigh here. Back with the breaking news here out of Boston, these young suspects headed to the federal courthouse, appearance number one, less than an hour from now in Boston. Be right back.