In addition to threatening her with criminal charges and a potential prison sentence to get what they want from her, Ron Sullivan said authorities can bring social pressure to bear, including leaking information that suggests she isn’t being helpful.
‘‘She’s the mother of a young daughter. I imagine she does not want to be deemed as a pariah or ostracized by the whole country,’’ he said.
One question that swirls around Russell is what she saw inside the cramped Cambridge apartment she shared with Tamerlan, whom she married in 2010, and their toddler. Two U.S. officials have told the AP that Dzhokhar told investigators the bombs were assembled in that apartment. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the details of the ongoing investigation.
Robert Clark Corrente, a former U.S. attorney for Rhode Island, said it is unlikely Russell could be prosecuted if she saw a pressure cooker in the home. But if she saw a dozen pressure cookers and several bags of fireworks, that could be a different story.
Her culpability for her actions after the bombings is also a matter of degrees. She could be in trouble if authorities determine she harbored someone or destroyed evidence. But even if Russell communicated with her husband after the release of his photo as the bombing suspect, Corrente said she may not be charged because of the public way it happened.
‘‘I think anybody would be expected to call his or her spouse and say, ‘You won’t believe what I just saw on TV,'’’ Corrente said.
The arrests of Dzhokhar’s friends and scrutiny of Russell may also have a deterrent effect by demonstrating what happens to people who don’t alert authorities if someone close to them is involved in a terror plot, Zlotnick said.
Eugene O'Donnell, a John Jay College of Criminal Justice lecturer and former police officer and assistant district attorney in New York City, said the message from federal authorities is clear: ‘‘No stone will be unturned’’ in their probe.
‘‘I think after 9/11 there’s really a kitchen sink approach to national security,’’ he said.
Smith reported from Providence, R.I. Associated Press writers Pete Yost and Eileen Sullivan contributed to this report from Washington.