Judge OKs pretrial release of Pulse gunman's widow but delays order

Miranda GreerMar 03, 2017

A federal judge in California cleared the way on Wednesday for the widow of gunman Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, to be released from jail.

The prosecutors filed a motion in federal court Thursday asking that Noor Salman's release be halted while the court considers their request.

In handing down her ruling, Ryu said there was no proof Salman had any connection to the Islamic State jihadist group or had exhibited extremist views.

In a statement posted to social media, Orlando police Chief John Mina said he was disappointed by the turn of events.

Salman's husband, Omar Mateen, pledged allegiance to several terror organizations during the attack before police shot and killed him.

"But here, the magistrate judge wrongly focused on the fact that [Salman] was charged with aiding and abetting, as compared to the defendant herself being charged with providing material support or with conspiracy", the letter reads. Salman is also charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to investigators.

Prosecutors argued against Salman's release on bail, calling her a danger to the public.

Salman was ordered to wear an ankle monitor and will stay with her uncle in Northern California.

Her attorneys say she would be released Friday on a $500,000 bond. They point to her actions on the night of the attack in which she shopped for a Father's Day gift for Mateen and planned a family vacation as evidence that she was unaware of her husband's violent plans. Salman said her husband abused steroids, which led to weight gain and erratic moods. According to the indictment, Salman also knowingly engaged in misleading conduct toward law enforcement "on or about June 12" with the intention to "hinder, delay and prevent communication" to federal law enforcement agencies information relating to the attack at Pulse night club.

Salman and her young son had gone to live with her mother in suburban San Francisco, where Salman was arrested in January. In addition, they made Salman the death beneficiary of his bank account, prosecutors said. Among the purchases was an $8,000 diamond ring for Salman.

But she agreed to hold the decision for two days as prosecutors appeal.

Ms Salman's lawyer, Linda Moreno, said it was "extraordinarily rare" for bail to be given in terrorism cases.

The judge found the weight of the evidence by the government as "debatable" and "vulnerable" to fact.

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