Attorney General Eric Holder on Saturday defended the decision to read the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon terror bombings his Miranda rights.
Holder said the decision was “totally consistent with the laws that we have.”
He also pointed to the federal magistrate on the case.
“The decision to Mirandize was one that the magistrate made,” Holder told CNN as he arrived at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in Washington.
Early on Monday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler showed up at the hospital unannounced with a federal prosecutor and public defender while the suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was being questioned by the FBI.
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He was under interrogation for about 16 hours when Bowler read him his Miranda rights, according to news reports. The FBI thought it had 36 to 48 hours to question Tsarnaev under the pre-Miranda public-safety exemption.
The 19-year-old suspect was arrested four days after the April 15 blasts and was transferred on Friday to Federal Medical Center Devens, an all-male prison outside Boston.
Tsarnaev is being treated for gunshot wounds to the neck and leg sustained in a fierce shootout with police earlier on April 19 that killed his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan.
“We had a two-day period under where authorities questioned him under the public-safety exception,” Holder told CNN on Saturday, referring to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. “Everything was done appropriately, and we got good leads.”
The attorney general also declined to comment on reports that Russian authorities secretly recorded a telephone conversation in 2011 in which Tamerlan vaguely discussed jihad with his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva.
She also was recorded talking to someone in southern Russia who is under FBI investigation in an unrelated case, officials told The Associated Press on Saturday.
The conversations are significant because, had they been revealed earlier, the FBI might have had enough evidence to initiate a more thorough investigation of the Tsarnaev family.
The Tsarnaevs are ethnic Chechens who emigrated from southern Russia to the Boston area over the past 11 years.
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