“I feel unsafe in PCCF, and I have a great fear for my life,” wrote Khairullozhon Matanov, 24, in a letter to this author postmarked November 1, 2014. Matanov is awaiting trial for allegedly lying to the FBI in an effort to downplay his relationship with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, accused Boston bomber who was killed by police in April 2013.
Matanov was severely beaten by guards after flooding his cell in protest against the constant Islamophobic harassment at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility (PCCF). The incident was reported in a letter from Matanov to a friend postmarked October 24, 2014 and also by a sympathetic fellow inmate, who has since been moved to another unit. The remaining inmates taunt him in a hostile manner.
“They harass me so much, I don’t know what to do, they couldn’t see that I was being so peaceful, now even some ignorant inmates say bad things, and when they do it, the guards play the US National Anthem, it is awful,” writes Matanov.
The US National Anthem was also blasting on the night of October 22, when seven correctional officers sprayed tear gas into his cell. Unable to breathe, Matanov tried to get some air from under the door but was sprayed in the face. After allowing them to handcuff him, he collapsed.
“When I was like half dead not moving at all they jump on me so badly. One of them stick his finger into my right eye (it’s swollen right now full of blood). After, the same person start saying, “You [expletive] Muslim terrorist” and kick my head... I pass out from pain, then I woke up when one of them twist my hand.”
Khair reports that he heard one of them say, “We have to take him out walking.”
“They took me out... the end? No! Horror just started. They put me in that chair with the spray all over my face and hands, left me for two and half hours in one room. I was crying and asking for help with my eye (literally burning with the pain). Ruthless human beings, I thought I am about to die. Fortunately for me it was not my time. I survived with lots of pain... No justice in this place.. If they will have an argument with me, they play national anthem, by the way when they came to get me in their suits they played the national anthem of USA. It is so awful, they are pulling USA down... I could hear and now I see they really really enjoyed this awful terror which they did against me.”
A week later, Matanov wrote, “Trying to get better, after all of this pain, but my eyes and my head is still not good, I can’t see properly, and I can’t read. If I do so my head goes crazy. They did not give me good medical care, even though I was beaten nearly to death.”
A former client of Matanov’s taxi service wrote in an email, “This is unbelievable. Months ago an officer told me the FBI sent him there so he would be safe...yeah right!”
Supporters contacted a number of agencies as well as the Consulate of Kyrgyzstan. It is hoped that the Kyrgyzstan ambassador to the US will visit Matanov as he did last Ramadan, after Matanov mentioned in a letter dated July 8 that he was not given any food for four days.
This is not the first time Matanov was punished for flooding his cell in protest of being singled out for harassment. In a letter postmarked August 21, he described another incident where he was stripped naked and taken to “Q5” - a cold, rubber room usually used for suicidal prisoners. He was left there without clothes, normal food or toilet for four days.
“Now I told this to my lawyer, guess what, it was better to tell to a wall so I could hear the echo.”
Matanov’s court appointed attorney, Edward Hayden told Boston Magazine that “the injuries did not appear as extensive as what was described in the letter... He had a black eye, he had scrapes, bruises, and that’s what I saw…some of these letters and Tweets make it seem like he was beaten to an inch of his life, and that’s not true.” This was not the first time that Matanov’s lawyer undermined his case.
Bruce Gellerman tweeted on November 6 that Matanov filed a motion to withdraw his attorney Edward Hayden. There will be a closed hearing on November 20.
The government is putting Matanov under intense pressure because they want to break his resolve to maintain his innocence. He was offered his freedom if he would become an FBI informant as he wrote on July 15. When he refused, he was then offered a shorter sentence of seven years if he would plead guilty, he wrote on July 24.
The day after the attack on Matanov, an inmate at the same prison, Marcus Czaja, 32, was found dead in his cell while on November 3, Steven Wayne Roderick, 34, died at PCCF. Both deaths were ruled suicides.