A civil rights group accused the FBI on Wednesday of harassing friends of a Chechen man shot to death in his Orlando apartment by an agent during questioning about a Boston Marathon bombing suspect.
The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Wednesday that the FBI has been threatening to arrest friends of Ibragim Todashev unless they become informants and spy on local mosques, restaurants patronized by Muslims and hookah lounges.
Todashev was killed while FBI agents and others questioned him about his friendship with suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev last May. Officials originally said the Chechen man lunged at an agent with a knife. They later said it was no longer clear what happened.
FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said in an email statement that he couldn't comment on ongoing investigations, "including who we interview and why."
"However, anytime the FBI interviews an individual it is done either with his/her consent or with an attorney present," Bresson said.
The civil rights group also alleged that a friend of Todashev who was arrested last week on an unrelated charge was questioned for six hours by FBI agents about Todashev. When Ashurmamad Miraliev was arrested last week, he asked to have an attorney present during questioning but was denied the request, said Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Tampa office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Miraliev, 20, later was booked into the Osceola County Jail on a charge of tampering with a witness or informant for an unrelated case.
Miraliev was living in the same Orlando apartment where Todashev was fatally shot last May.
Attorneys only saw him for the first time on Tuesday, Shilby said.
About half a dozen friends of Todashev have been subjected to the harassment by an FBI agent who has told them they could be jailed or lose their green card if they don't cooperate, Shibly said.
"They have been terrified," Shibly said.