Your Government is Closed
I was working on a story about the FBI's harassment, intimidation and extortion of friends and associates of Ibragim Todashev, the man they executed at the end of a six-hour night-time interrogation in his apartment in Orlando, Florida earlier this year. Since his death, which the FBI initially claimed, variously, was the result of his lunging at an officer, or trying to grab the officer's gun, or attacking the officer with a sword or a broom, but later admitted it couldn't explain, the agency has been systematically picking up and intimidating, Gestapo-style, his girlfriend and other friends and associates, reportedly threatening them with deportation or arrest if they don't agree to assist the FBI by spying on local mosques or middle eastern restaurants in Florida's Islamic neighborhoods.
One particularly egregious case involved a friend of the late Todashev's named Ashur Miraliev, who last month was picked up by the FBI, which claimed he was wanted for questioning on a charge of "intimidating a witness" to an alleged bar fight (a local, not a federal charge). Miraliev, according to the Florida office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), says that the agents, once they had him, never asked about that case, but wanted to question him about his relationship to Todashev, who had been a friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder of the two brothers accused of the Boston Marathon bombing, and who died in a shootout with Boston police. Miraliev said he demanded an attorney, but was told he couldn't have one, and was then grilled for hours in violation of his Miranda rights. He remains in a local jail on $50,000 bail on the "intimidation" charge, and has been there now for 15 days, unable to raise the bail.
I tried to call the FBI for comment, since one news report had quoted the FBI's top flak, Paul Bresson, as claiming that the FBI would never question a witness who had requested an attorney's presence, unless the witness agreed to be questioned without legal counsel. I wanted to ask how voluntary such questioning could be in this case, since Miraliev would clearly have known that his friend Todashev was killed by the FBI during his attorney-free interrogation. Not the kind of situation in which one would be comfortable refusing to answer questions, one would think!
Anyhow, when I called the FBI Public Affairs office, the phone just rang on and on. There was not even a voice-mail recording offering a journalist a chance to leave a message.