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Boston bomb suspect's lawyers want prison restrictions eased

Runners continue to run towards the finish line of the Boston Marathon as an explosion erupts near the finish line of the race in this photo
Runners continue to run towards the finish line of the Boston Marathon as an explosion erupts near the finish line of the race in this photo

BOSTON (Reuters) - Lawyers for accused Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a judge on Wednesday to lift sweeping restrictions on his ability to communicate from prison, claiming the measures are hindering his defense and violating his right to free speech.

The U.S. Department of Justice in August imposed special limits on Tsarnaev barring him from speaking with other inmates or the outside world except in specific circumstances directly related to his defense, as a way to keep him from inciting or triggering other attacks.

Tsarnaev's lawyers said in a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Boston that they did not believe there was enough evidence showing that his communications are dangerous, adding that the restrictions - known as SAMs or Special Administrative Measures - were "unnecessarily harsh and isolating."

"In the absence of a showing that there is a reasonable necessity for particular SAMs that impose harsh conditions of confinement, they are unlawful and should be vacated," according to the motion.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan are believed to have detonated two pressure cooker bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, killing three people and injuring scores of others. Both were ethnic Chechens whom prosecutors claim were inspired by al Qaeda.

Dzhokar Tsarnaev was arrested days later after a manhunt through Boston and has been in prison awaiting trial. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police during the chase.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's lawyers last week also asked for more time to make their case that the 20-year-old should be spared the possibility of execution if convicted of the attack.

Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

(Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Carol Bishopric)

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