After Deportation, Tatiana Gruzdeva Looks to Move On

New details emerge in the circumstances that led to Gruzdeva, the girlfriend of a Tsarnaev associate killed by the FBI, getting thrown out of the U.S.

A week after the deportation of Tatiana Gruzdeva—girlfriend of Ibragim Todashev, the Tamerlan Tsarnaev associate who was shot and killed while being questioned by the FBI in his Orlando, Fla., home—Gruzdeva and U.S. officials are providing new details into the chain of events that saw her thrown out of the country, evidently for the crime of speaking to the press. Reached on Thursday by Facebook message from her home in Tiraspol, Moldova, Gruzdeva told Boston magazine that she looks forward to moving on to the next chapter of her life. “I hope all this will go away from me soon,” she said.

The latest twist in the Gruzdeva saga unfurled when she was arrested on October 1, the first day of the partial government shutdown. She was detained during a visit to US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement office in Orlando, where she was attempting to obtain work papers. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has alleged that the FBI is harassing Todashev’s friends. Last month, we broke the story that Gruzdeva’s roommate, another Todashev friend named Ashurmamad Miraliev, had been arrested and questioned by the FBI. CAIR also alleges the FBI denied his requests for an attorney.

Public information officials from ICE had been furloughed and unable to provide comment throughout the duration of Gruzdeva’s detention and her October 11 deportation to Moscow. On Thursday, though, ICE public affairs officer Carissa Cutrell confirmed Gruzdeva was arrested and left ICE’s custody on October 11.

Cutrell also confirmed our report that Gruzdeva was legally in the U.S. prior to her arrest. “On Aug. 9 [2013], U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) granted Tatiana Gruzdeva one year of deferred action and subsequently released her from ICE custody,” she said in a statement. But Cutrell would not comment as to why Gruzdeva was forced to leave America 10 months early.

Immigration attorney Jeremiah Freedman says that deferred action is usually paired with something called an order of supervision. According to Freedman, orders of supervision can include certain provisos. “They might say they don’t want you to associate with certain people,” he said.

“[Deferred action] is not like you have a visa where you have certain rights,” he said.

It’s not clear what the conditions to Gruzdeva’s deferred action were, if there were any. But Gruzdeva told me repeatedly that the only reason ICE officials gave her for her arrest and deportation was that she had spoken to Boston magazine.

Gruzdeva recently messaged me from her home in Tiraspol. She said she was not able to collect any of her belongings from her apartment in Orlando—the same one in which Todashev was killed—although ICE officials provided her with a winter coat. She was accompanied on her flight to Moscow by two officials from ICE, she said, and when she landed, she was questioned by Russian officials for six hours. Her mother then met her at the airport and the two drove back to Tiraspol, Moldova, together.

After Gruzdeva was arrested and before her deportation, I contacted Jeffery Ashton’s office, the Florida State Attorney who plans to conduct an independent investigation of the FBI killing of Todashev. I asked if he was aware of Gruzdeva’s situation and if her deportation would hinder his investigation.

“Our office is continuing its investigation in coordination with federal authorities,” said Richard Wallsh, Ashton’s chief assistant. “We will have no further comment on the investigation at this time.”