Lawyers for Noor Salman — the widow of Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen — have called for a mistrial in her ongoing federal trial after prosecutors revealed this weekend that Omar's father, Seddique Mateen, was an FBI informant for more than a decade.
Salman, 31, is charged with obstruction of justice and for material support to a foreign terrorist organization. She has pleaded not guilty.
On Saturday, prosecutors sent Salman's defense attorneys an email revealing that Seddique Mateen was an FBI informant from 2005 to the summer of 2016, according to court documents. The filing was first reported by Orlando TV station WKMG.
Prosecutors also said that during a search of Seddique Mateen’s residence "on June 12, 2016, receipts for money transfers to Turkey and Afghanistan were found.
The dates of the transfers were between March 16, 2016 and June 5, 2016."
The email went on: "As a result of the discovery of these receipts, an FBI investigation into Seddique Mateen was opened. S. Mateen has not been informed by the FBI about the investigation. Further, on November 1, 2012, an anonymous tip indicated that Seddique Mateen was seeking to raise $50,000 - $100,000 via a donation drive to contribute towards an attack against the government of Pakistan."
As a result of the email, Salman's lawyers filed a motion Sunday asking the court to declare a mistrial because of the late disclosure of Seddique Mateen's role as an informant who is currently also under investigation by the FBI. The new information, the lawyers argue, did not allow the defense to investigate whether Seddique Mateen knew of his son's plan to attack Pulse nightclub.
On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen opened fire at the nightclub, killing 49 people and injuring 68 others. He was killed at the scene by law enforcement.
In the motion, Salman's lawyers also note a decision to not give her a planned polygraph test, and allege that was because of the FBI's "desire to implicate Noor Salman, rather than Seddique Mateen in order to avoid scrutiny of its own ineptitude with the latter."
The defense claimed that Seddique Mateen's relationship with the FBI influenced a 2013 investigation into threatening comments Omar Mateen allegedly made toward coworkers.
"Additionally, while the Government has disclosed that Mateen was under FBI
investigation based on statements he made while at work, the Government has repeatedly failed to disclose that his father played a significant role in that investigation," the defense argued.
On Monday, US District Judge Paul Byron denied the defense's motion for a mistrial. "This trial is not about Seddique Mateen, it's about Noor Salman," the judge said, according to the Orlando Sentinal.
After the nightclub shooting in June 2016, Seddique Mateen did not shy away from the media, or from posting videos to his Facebook page. He often talked about not having prior knowledge of the attacks, or spoke about his condemnation of the murderous acts of his son.
“I don’t know what made him [do this], I have no idea, I had no idea that he felt resentful in his heart and had gone to the gay [he uses the derogatory word hamjensbazi] club and killed men and women there," Seddique Mateen said in a video on his Facebook page soon after the shootings, according to the Guardian.
"I am very sad and I’ve announced this to the American people as well. Why did he do this act during this holy month of Ramadan? On the topic of being hamjensbazi, punishment and the things that they do, God will give the punishment."