Kazakh students who befriended bomb suspect held by immigration agency

Story highlights

  • The two Kazakh students had been questioned about their link to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
  • They were later taken into the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • They had nothing to do with the April 15 explosions, Kadyrbayev's attorney says
The lawyer for one of the Kazakh students who befriended Boston Marathon suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev says his client is being held strictly on immigration violations and had nothing to do with the explosions on April 15.
The attorney, Robert Stahl, told CNN that his client, Dias Kadyrbayev, and a fellow Kazakh student, Azamat Tazhayakov, were questioned for about 10 hours by FBI agents on April 19, just hours before Tsarnaev surrendered to authorities after he was found hiding in a boat in Watertown, Massachusetts.
"They were questioned by FBI agents. They cooperated voluntarily. They did not ask for attorneys. They cooperated without attorneys in order to assist the authorities," Stahl told CNN.
They were released after the questioning but were taken into custody a day later. Stahl told CNN they are being held at the Suffolk County House of Corrections under the supervision of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Immigration law requires that students "regularly attend" classes to keep their visa status current, Stahl said, but Kadyrbayev "had not been attending classes."
In such cases, school authorities inform the immigration agency, Stahl said
Kadyrbayev befriended Tsarnaev, Stahl said, because "he had been in the U.S. for a long time, spoke English well and knew the ropes." The attorney confirmed that the two Kazakh students were alongside Tsarnaev in photograph taken in New York City's Times Square in 2012.
Federal law enforcement sources told CNN that agents "went in heavy" -- prepared for resistance -- on April 19 when they went to the off-campus apartment the two Kazakh students shared because authorities believed Tsarnaev might have been staying there.
Another source who did not want his identity disclosed told CNN that the Kazakh students and two other students at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth shared a cellphone plan.
"They all wanted to buy an iPhone 5," the source said, "but none of them could afford it on their own. So they shared a plan."
Stahl said he spoke to Dias Kadyrbayev on Friday.
"As you can imagine, for a 19-year-old foreign exchange student, where English is a second language, it's a frightening situation to be involved in an immigration violation," Stahl told CNN. "He would like to go home to his family."
Federal law enforcement sources told CNN that the two Kazakh students were being detained "in an abundance of caution" because authorities want detailed information on the movements of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, in the weeks and days before the bombs went off near the Boston Marathon finish line.
Stahl said he did not know how long his client would remain in detention.
"That is a developing situation," he told CNN. "We will be dealing with that through the courts."