BOSTON Two college friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who were jailed by immigration authorities the day after his capture had nothing to do with the deadly attack and had seen no hints that he harbored any violent or terrorist sympathies, a lawyer for one of them said Friday.
Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, who are from Kazakhstan, were classmates with Tsarnaev at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. They appeared alongside him in a recent photograph of a group of young men visiting New York City's Times Square. They were detained April 20 after being questioned in connection with the bombing, which had killed three people and injured more than 260 others a few days earlier.
"These kids are just as shocked and horrified about what happened as everyone else," Kadyrbayev's lawyer, Robert Stahl, said in a phone interview. "They can't even fathom something like this from a kid who seemed to be a typical young college student."
Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev have been interviewed at length, twice, by FBI agents and have cooperated fully, said Stahl, a former federal prosecutor. They are not suspects but are being held for violating their student visas by not regularly attending classes, Stahl said. They are being detained at a county jail in Boston.
The Kazakh Foreign Ministry said Monday night that U.S. authorities came across the two while searching for "possible links and contacts" to Tsarnaev, a sophomore at the university. U.S. immigration officials have declined to discuss the reasons why the men were detained.
John Hoey, an assistant chancellor at UMass Dartmouth, said Kadyrbayev is no longer enrolled; he was last a student in the fall. Tazhayakov is enrolled.
The pair had lived at an off-campus apartment in New Bedford, about 60 miles south of Boston, and got around in a car registered to Kadyrbayev with a souvenir plate that says "Terrorista (hash)1." The car was pictured on Tsarnaev's Twitter feed in March.
That plate was just a joke gift from some of Kadyrbayev's friends, meant to invoke his penchant for late-night partying rather than his political sentiments, Stahl said.
"It's such a silly thing. Bad timing," Stahl said. "His desire is to be released so he can return home. He would like to go home to the comfort of his family. You can imagine being 19 years old and having SWAT teams break down your door. It's a terrible situation."
Stahl said the young Kazakhs didn't see Tsarnaev in the days before or after the April 15 bombing.
Tazhayakov's lawyer, Thomas Kirsch, did not immediately return a phone call or an email message Friday evening.
Tsarnaev, who was captured hiding in a tarp-covered boat in a suburban Boston yard after a lengthy manhunt, is in federal custody. His older brother, the other identified suspect in the bombing, died after a shootout with police. Their mother has said the allegations against them are lies.
Earlier Friday, Tsarnaev was taken from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he was recovering from a gunshot wound to the throat and other injuries suffered during a getaway attempt, and transferred to the Federal Medical Center Devens, about 40 miles from Boston, the U.S. Marshals Service said. The facility at a former Army base treats federal prisoners.
CBS News senior correspondent John Miller told CBS Radio News that transferring Tsarnaev gets the hospital out of a delicate situation.
"There was some tension there," said Miller. "There were many victims of the Boston bombing in Beth Israel hospital who didn't want to be in the same hospital with one of the people allegedly responsible."
Miller reports Tsarnaev's transfer was done in early morning hours in the dark of night to avoid any security issues.
"A hospital is a place where the United States Marshals Service can keep a prisoner under guard, but it's not the ideal situation they would have in a prison hospital environment," Miller said.
U.S. intelligence agencies added the mother of the Boston bombing suspects, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, to a government terrorism database 18 months before the bombings, two officials told The Associated Press. She called it "lies and hypocrisy" and said she has never been linked to crimes or terrorism.
The CIA asked for the Boston terror suspect and his mother to be added to a terrorist database in the fall of 2011, after the Russian government contacted the agency with concerns that both had become religious militants, according to officials briefed on the investigation. About six months earlier, the FBI investigated Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, also at Russia's request, one of the officials said. The FBI found no ties to terrorism.
The mother has been vocal in her criticism of the United States in recent days, telling reports she regretted bringing her family to America, and that the United States "stole her sons."