Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has complained about "overly harsh" prison conditions while awaiting trial, his lawyers have said, claiming that his treatment is illegal.
Tsarnaev's attorneys filed a 23-page motion to the U.S. District Court in Boston, arguing that the "Special Administrative Measures" imposed on Tsarnaev are not only "extraordinary and severe," but also illegal, making it hard for him to prepare for his defense.
The 20-year-old suspect, who is accused of helping his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, in organizing the finish-line bombing of the Boston Marathon on April 15 that killed three people and injured over 260, has apparently been confined entirely to his cell, except for visits. He has also been allowed "very limited access" to a small outdoor enclosure, The Associated Press shared.
The older Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed by police after a manhunt, while Dzhokhar was critically injured but survived and was captured. He has since pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, including killing a police officer in the later shootout, which could potentially lead to the death penalty.
Communication restrictions have also been imposed on Tsarnaev, apparently because of the risk that he could continue trying "to incite others to engage in violent jihad."
Investigators are still trying to paint a clear picture of the motives that led the Tsarnaev brothers to carry out the bombing, though a number of reports have said there is evidence to believe they might have been radicalized by Islam.
"We don't know where these boys were radicalized, but this mosque has a curriculum that radicalizes people. Other people have been radicalized there," said Charles Jacobs from Americans for Peace and Tolerance, an interfaith group that investigated the Islamic Society of Boston mosque in Cambridge, Mass., which the brothers are said to have attended.
Rolling Stone magazine also sparked a firestorm in July when it featured Tsarnaev on the front cover of its latest issue, with a photo that many said made him look like a "rock star."
"The Bomber – how a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster," the front cover read, prompting some readers to call it "tasteless" and "disgusting."
Tsarnaev's lawyers are arguing, however, that prosecutors have not yet presented evidence proving that special restrictions are required in his case.
"The government has not alleged that Mr. Tsarnaev has done or said anything since his arrest to commit violence, incite violence, or engage in communications that pose a security threat," the filing argued.
Prosecutors have said that the suspect has reaffirmed "his commitment to jihad and expressed hope that his actions would inspire others to engage in violent jihad," allegedly while speaking with FBI agents following his capture.
"There is no indication that Tsarnaev's intentions have changed since then," prosecutors added, according to The Boston Globe.
Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts have stated that illegal restrictions on Tsarnaev could "threaten our Constitution's guarantees of due process and effective assistance of counsel in this and all cases."