Letter from Tsarnaev Friend Claims Abuse at the Hands of Correctional Officers

A letter that appears to be written by Khairullozhon Matanov details abuse at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility, but his lawyer said his injuries don't fit his description.
Ed Hayden, defense attorney for Khairullozhon Matanov/Image via AP

Ed Hayden, defense attorney for Khairullozhon Matanov/Image via AP

A recent letter that appears to have been written by Khairullozhon Matanov, the friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who’s being held in solitary confinement in a Plymouth facility for allegedly lying to investigators about meeting with the brothers just hours after the attack on Boylston Street, contains details that the inmate was severely beaten by correctional officers at the jail last month.

But according to Edward Hayden, the court-appointed lawyer representing Matanov, the supposed letter made the injuries sound worse than what he actually saw during a recent visit with his client at the facility.

“I got a phone call on the morning of Thursday, [October] 23, from another inmate to go down to see Matanov, because he said he was in bad shape and had been beaten up,” Hayden told Boston. “He had a black eye, he had scrapes, bruises, and that’s what I saw…some of these letters and Tweets make it seem like he was beaten to an inch of his life, and that’s not true.”

One of the letters, which was sent to Boston in late October by a source who requested anonymity, claims that after Matanov “flood out” his cell and refused to “cuff out,” seven officers entered his confinement area and sprayed him with pepper spray. The letter states that the officers then handcuffed him, and when he was “half dead, no moving,” an officer came in and stuck his finger in Matanov’s eye, causing it to swell up and fill with blood.

The letter states the same officer then called him a “Muslim” and a “terrorist,” and kicked him in the head, giving him a concussion. At that point, the letter states Matanov passed out, but “the horror just beginning.” The letter goes on to say that he was put in a chair, and left there with the pepper spray in his eyes for more than two hours, and that the officers have also played the National Anthem when coming into his cell.

“Ruthless human beings,” the letter states. “I thought I am about to die. Fortunately for me, it was not my time. I survived with a lots (sic) of pain. No justice in this place. Inmates are rats, and [Correctional Officers] support them.”

Matanov, a citizen of Kyrgyzstan who entered the U.S. legally in 2010, was arrested in May and charged with destroying, altering, and falsifying records, documents, and tangible objects as part of a federal investigation into the bombings.

FBI investigators claim that Matanov had dinner with the Tsarnaev brothers just hours after the bombings, and later “took a series of steps to impede the FBI’s investigation into the extent of his friendship, contact, and communication with the suspected bombers.”

Matanov is not being charged with participating or corroborating in the attack, or for knowing about the bombings prior to the tragic event, according to court documents.

While Hayden said the injuries did not appear as extensive as what was described in the letter, he also said there have been a series of “problems” at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility with his client, and he has been unsuccessfully trying since June to transfer Matanov to another jail.

“This latest thing is sort of the culmination of a series of problems. I have been going down to Plymouth regularly and putting out fires, but nothing as bad as this,” he said. “There have been other problems. Never quite this bad, but stuff that he has been disciplined for for various reasons—not really serious stuff. I have had to go down there to speak to him about it.”

Hayden said he would not confirm whether the letter was written by Matanov, but the address, cell number, and other letters allegedly written by Matanov match up with the information in regards to the suspect’s whereabouts. Envelopes addressed to the recipients from the jail also match up.

Hayden said he’s going to see his client this week, and will ask him more about what took place. He said an investigation into the incident is underway at the jail, and the medical department at the Plymouth facility assured him that they were treating Matanov, and were “on top of the situation.”

A spokesperson from the Plymouth County Correctional Facility referred Boston to the U.S. Marshal’s office for all inquiries about the allegations of prisoner abuse. A spokesman for the U.S. Marshal’s office declined to comment on “security-related matters.”

Below is a copy of the letter in which Matanov claims the abuse at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility:

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Steve Annear Steve Annear, Digital Writer at Boston Magazine sannear@bostonmagazine.com