Prosecutors seek to stop release of Pulse gunman's wife

2017-03-03 06:58
Ariel Hermina, who was inside the nightclub Pulse during the shooting and hid in the bathroom, hugs friend Ashley Maldonado at a candlelight vigil at Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando. (Loren Elliott, AP)

Ariel Hermina, who was inside the nightclub Pulse during the shooting and hid in the bathroom, hugs friend Ashley Maldonado at a candlelight vigil at Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando. (Loren Elliott, AP)

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Orlando - Federal prosecutors on Thursday moved to keep the wife of the Orlando, Florida, nightclub shooter in jail until she is tried on charges she helped her husband scout out potential targets.

Their motion came a day after a judge in California had ordered Noor Salman to be released as early as Friday, saying it's "debatable" whether the government has enough evidence to convict her. US Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu also said Salman, 31, is not dangerous and there is no proof she has ties to the Islamic State group or holds extremist views.

The criminal charges were filed in Orlando but the detention hearing was held in Oakland, California, because Salman was living in the Bay Area at the time she was taken into custody.

"In terms of Noor being released ... we don't know," said Linda Moreno, one of her attorneys.

Salman has pleaded not guilty to charges of aiding and abetting, and obstruction of justice. She faces life in prison if she is convicted.

Salman's husband, Omar Mateen, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State during the attack at the Pulse gay nightclub on June 12. The deadliest mass shooting in recent US history left 49 people dead and dozens more injured. Mateen was eventually killed by police.

In their motion, prosecutors said there is a presumption in the law for Salman to be held in jail since the crime involves terrorism, and that prosecutors need not show anything more than an indictment to back up their request.

"Here, the defendant proffered evidence of her husband's alleged abuse, the affidavits of friends and family, and her lack of overall danger in support of an argument that she does not constitute a flight risk or danger to the community," the prosecutors said.

"Such proffered evidence falls far short of justifying a finding in favour of release, particularly in light of the nature of the charged offence."

Moreno said the motion seems a rehash of what was argued in the California courtroom.

"The court found that the evidence they claim supports these allegations was debatable," Moreno said. "It's far more than debatable. It's groundless."

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