Girlfriend of Ibragim Todashev, friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect, talks about her weeks in custody
The live-in girlfriend of Ibragim Todashev says that while her boyfriend was being interviewed about the Boston Marathon bombings, she was grilled by FBI agents, turned over to immigration officials, and then held in solitary confinement, where, days later, she learned that he had been killed.
Todashev, a friend of accused Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was questioned by FBI agents and Massachusetts State Police in his apartment for more than five hours on May 22 before being shot and killed.
Last week, Tatiana Gruzdeva, who lived with him in Orlando, gave her first interview since his death. In the detailed interview with Boston magazine, Gruzdeva recalled the days leading up to her boyfriend’s killing.
She recalled Todashev being upset after the bombings and his initial questioning by federal agents.
On May 16, Gruzdeva said, she had traveled with Todashev for a voluntary interview with the FBI when agents pulled her into a room, interrogated her, and then turned her over to immigration officials.
“They asked me again and again about Ibragim and all this stuff. They asked me, ‘Can you tell us when he will do something?’ I said, ‘No! I can’t!’ Because he wasn’t doing anything, and I didn’t know anything.” Gruzdeva told Boston magazine. “And they said, ‘Oh, really? So why don’t we call immigration.’”
On May 30, an immigration judge ordered Gruzdeva be deported, but in August she was released and granted another year’s stay in the United States.
In broken English, Gruzdeva confirmed Friday for the Globe the account she gave to Boston magazine and said that she did not plan to do future interviews.
“I don’t want to have any problem with the FBI. I already had a lot. ... It was the worst time in all my life,” Gruzdeva said. “I just don’t want to have more problem.”
That fear of the FBI has been echoed by various friends of Todashev, members of Orlando’s small community of Chechen immigrants, who believe the FBI has been monitoring them since before Todashev’s killing.
Law enforcement officials have leaked conflicting reports to the media about Todashev’s shooting. Some have alleged that he attacked agents, but reports have differed over whether he was armed. Some have said he was about to write a confession implicating him and Tsarnaev in a triple homicide in Waltham in 2011.
The FBI has refused to comment on the reports, has sealed the autopsy and all other medical records, and — four months after Todashev was shot seven times — has not issued any report on the shooting.
For months, state officials in both Massachusetts and Florida — including Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley — said they would not call for an independent probe or themselves investigate whether Todashev’s shooting was justified.
However, in August, attorney Jeffrey L. Ashton, the top state prosecutor in Orlando, announced he would mount an independent probe of the shooting.
The Globe has also confirmed that Ashurmamad Miraliev, 23, of Orlando, a friend of both Todashev and Gruzdeva, has been arrested on charges of threatening a witness in a 14-month-old battery case against Todashev.
Miraliev was arrested Wednesday on a charge of tampering with a victim by threat. The case was not connected with the Marathon bombings or with Todashev’s death, according to Florida law enforcement officials.Wesley Lowery can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @WesleyLowery.