Terrorism Investigations

The "Tsarnaev is Innocent" Movement

By Benjamin Wittes
Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 7:09 AM

I suppose this was inevitable: A Twitter hashtag has developed devoted to the proposition that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is innocent: #Freejahar, for those curious to check it out. Spencer Ackerman describes it as follows:

Barely two days after cops apprehended Suspect #2 in the Boston Marathon bombings, supporters of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are rallying online. A flood of Twitter, Instagram and web postings are mirroring the crowdsourced effort to find the bomb culprit, except this time they’re out to exonerate him. Analysts of online extremism are watching closely to see if Tsarnaev becomes a cult figure.

The #freejahar hashtag on Twitter is about what you’d expect after the most highly publicized manhunt in the country. It’s a mix of conspiracy theories, sympathy for Tsarnaev and skepticism of the official narrative surrounding the 19-year-old’s arrest. Much of it is consumed with an effort to crowdsource Tsarnaev’s exoneration, pointing to photos from the scene and speculating about them — similar to what took place on 4chan and Reddit to hunt the bombing perpetrators.

Yesterday, Alan received the following email:

Date: Sat, Apr 20, 2013 at 5:22 PM
Subject: Good evening...
To: rozenshtein.lawfare@gmail.com

I came across this /lawfare-podcast-24-federal-public-defender-miriam-conrad-rezwan-ferdaus-case today after finding out that Miriam Conrad will be representing the 19yr old suspect of the Boston Bomber Dzhakhar. I admire your pedigree. I have analyzed and reviewed so much over the past few days over this senario with some friends, and strongly stand by my word that Dzhakhar is framed and is innocent. How passionate is Miriam in this situation to represent the poor young boy? And is there anything that we can do to help? I am strongly considering switching my major from Biology to law after witnessing all this.My heart goes out to this kid. What is your input? I'd love to hear it.
Ugh. The meme will only grow stronger the more unambiguous the evidence gets.