Orlando nightclub gunman's widow ordered to remain jailed

Lisa Fernandez, Reuters

Posted at Mar 11 2017 08:03 AM

A federal judge in Florida on Friday revoked the bail and release order previously granted the widow of the gunman who killed 49 people at an Orlando nightclub, ruling that she remain jailed for the duration of criminal proceedings against her.

U.S. District Judge Paul Byron of Orlando overruled a federal magistrate in Northern California who found earlier in March that Noor Salman, 30, posed no danger to the community or serious flight risk.

In his order canceling Salman's release, Byron said that her mother and uncle own an apartment in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, governed by the Palestinian National Authority, where Salman has previously stayed.

Salman, who was living with her mother in the San Francisco Bay area after the Orlando massacre, was arrested in California on charges of obstructing justice and aiding her husband, Omar Mateen, in his attempt to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

She is accused of concealing prior knowledge of her husband's plans to carry out the attack and of concocting a cover story for him.

Mateen, a U.S. citizen of Afghan descent, was killed by police at the end of a bloody three-hour shooting rampage last June at the Pulse, a gay nightclub, during which he paused to call emergency-911 dispatchers to profess his allegiance to Islamic State militants.

It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history and the most lethal attack on American soil by Islamist militants since the suicide hijackings of jet airliners on Sept. 11, 2001.

Salman has said she was herself a victim of domestic abuse by Mateen and was unaware of his intentions to attack the nightclub.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu cast doubt on the weight of the government's evidence against Salman in her March 1 order clearing the way for her conditional release on $500,000 bond to the custody her uncle in Rodeo, California.

That release order was stayed by Byron the following day.

Byron's order on Friday means that Salman will remain in detention pending the outcome of the case. A hearing has been set for April 10, at which time the government will seek to have her transferred to custody in Florida.

Salman's lawyer Haitham "Sam" Amin acknowledged that the judge in the Florida federal court district where Salman is charged has the final say on the matter of her pretrial detention, saying, "That's just the way it works."