BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com / AP) - A Massachusetts man who was charged last week with deleting computer files and lying to investigators in the Boston Marathon bombing probe pleaded not guilty in federal court on Wednesday.
Khairullozhon Matanov is described by prosecutors as a friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, both suspected of planting bombs near the finish line of the 2013 marathon. Three people died and more than 260 were hurt.
Matanov, a cab driver who lives in Quincy, is accused of obstructing the bombing investigation.
Prosecutors are expected to ask a judge to keep him locked up while he awaits trial. During the hearing, an FBI agent testified that agents had been conducting surveillance on him for some time, and did not try to hide it. They told Matanov to avoid Boston last 4th of July, and also again this year for Patriots Day.
FBI Agent Tim McElroy said that Matanov, who came to the US in 2010 first on a student visa and later granted political asylum, does not own property or a car in the country. He has leased a cab for employment purposes, McElroy said.
Since being here, Matanov sent more than $71,000 in 114 money transfers outside of the US to six different countries using his own name and aliases, including the name "Ali Hassan." While the bulk of the money was sent to family members, McElroy said, $14,000 was sent to "associates."
"He was uncomfortable sending the money all in his own name unrelated to, for whatever tax purposes, it had nothing to do with terrorism," Matanov's attorney said.
Prosecutors seemed to suggest that Matanov may have been sending money overseas on behalf of Tamerlan Tsarnaev before the Marathon bombings. He did not send money overseas while Tamerlan was in Russia, the agent said.
An indictment said Matanov called Tamerlan Tsarnaev about 40 minutes after the bombings and bought the brothers dinner that night in Somerville. He isn't charged with participating in the bombing.
"They discussed the bombing like everyone else was discussing them, but the Tsarnaevs did not admit to doing it," Matanov's lawyer said.
He went on to say that his client consented to all searches by the FBI, and worked to do the right thing after the Tsarnaevs were identified as suspects, going to the police and giving their names, phone numbers and addresses 12 hours before Dzhokhar was captured.
To demonstrate that Matanov was not hiding his friendship from the FBI, his lawyer said Matanov also told authorities that he spoke with Tamerlan often, invited him to dinners, Skyped with him while he was in Russia and once went to a boxing match with him in Lowell.
In court on Wednesday, prosecutors argued that he was a "flight risk," and should be held in jail. Matanov's attorney said that he did not object to detention, because Matanov has nowhere to go or live. Matanov was held on voluntary detention.