Azamat Tazhayakov's Father Speaks Out on Charges in Boston Marathon Bombing Case

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Marco Werman: Now as you'll recall, the surviving Boston bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was a student at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. Three of his former classmates there were arrested on charges of obstructing the investigation. One of them is Azamat Tazhayakov. He's one of the two students from Kazakhstan, accused of trying to dispose of Tsarnaev's backpack and laptop. Once they realized their friend was a wanted suspect. Azamat Tazhayakov now sits in a federal prison, and his father has traveled from Kazakhstan to Boston to help his son. The worlds Andrea Crossan spoke to the father, Amir Ismagulov. Andrea, first of all, what did mister Ismagulov tell you about his son and the charges facing him?

Andrea Crossan: He has had very little contact with his son since he arrived in Boston on April 25. But he was adamant that he believed his son was innocent, and he had no connection to the charges that he was facing. And obviously, it's not surprising that his father is supporting him and vigorously defending him. If convicted, Azamat Tazhayakov faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. So I sat down with him and had a discussion about his son, and through a translator he told me what his son told him about the day of his arrest.

Amir Ismagulov (Through translator): He says that he's in shock, when he was first arrested, he was just in total shock. He said he was innocent and doesn't understand why he was being arrested. And now, he said that it took him two days to just kind of come out of the total shock, and now he just still doesn't understand, because he thinks he's innocent.

Crossan: What's been the reaction inside Kazakhstan in your home country over the arrest of your son and his friend?

Ismagulov: All of his friends are speaking out in Kazakhstan. Speaking to the media and saying that they don't believe that he can possibly be guilty of any of this. He's not… he has no connection to any, well, he has no connection to Islam himself. He respects the religion, but doesnââ?¬â?¢t know a word of the Koran, and he has no connection to Jihad or any kind of radical movements.

Crossan: If there's one thing that you could tell people now about your son, because there are obviously people in Boston and the united states, who believe that your son may have done something to help one of the suspected bombers. What would you wasn�t them to know about your son?

Ismagulov: He says that he would like the people of Boston to think of his son in the same ways that they think of their friends and acquaintances. He's a very calm, and intelligent person and that he would never hurt anyone. He didn�t know anything about the Tsarnaev's, and had he known that he would do anything like that, he would never even let him inside his house.

Crossan: Do you ever consider the possibility that your son made a mistake? And that he thought he was helping a friend?

Ismagulov: He asked his son about this, and his son said that had they really wanted to help, that there's a lot more that they probably could have done. They could have destroyed the laptop, they could have done other things somehow, but that's not what was going through their minds.

Crossan: Thank you very much for your time.

Ismagulov: He wants to thank you for the interview, and wants to ask you to provide good and truthful information to the people of Boston and to America, to let him know that his son loves America, that he sent his son to get an education here, so he could see with his own eyes what true democracy looks like, and he hopes that the people in this country can believe him and believe that this was just a mistake.

Werman: Andrea, we'd expect Mr. Ismagulov to defend his son, but he�s trying to make a point, it seems that his son's loyalty is with the US, and not with Tsarnaev or not with anyone who'd want to target the US.

Crossan: It felt very much to me like Mr. Ismagulov was trying to express a feeling of solidarity with Bostontonians. He told me that he'd been taking flowers to the makeshift memorial site near where the bombings happened. And he explained that he wanted to do this, and that his son wanted him to do this for him, because his son was just like everyone else, and he was concerned with the innocent people who had been injured and the families of those who'd been killed. And also, Marco, just to give you some context of this interview. Ismagulov insisted that I meet him in Boston Common. He said that he wanted to meet me in this spot because it was so significant to American history.

Werman: M-hmm. Now is his son Azamat is still in jail, what's next?

Crossan: At this point, his next court date is May 14. His father intends to stay in Boston to support his son through this process. He says he can't leave and go back to Kazakhstan until his son is free. And just before our meeting ended, he showed me on his iPhone, pictures of Azamat with his siblings and pictures of him with his mother, and he pointed to the photo and said to me that I should be able to just look at him and know that he was innocent.

Werman: The Worlds Andrea Crossan. Thank you, and thanks to Vera Kushkina for the translation.