Widow of gunman in Fla. attack is acquitted


Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla.

The widow of the gunman who slaughtered 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., was acquitted Friday of helping to plot the attack and lying to the FBI afterward – a rare and stinging defeat for the U.S. government in a terrorism case.

Noor Salman, 31, sobbed upon hearing the jury’s verdict of not guilty of obstruction and providing material support to a terrorist organization, charges that could have brought a life sentence. Her family gasped each time the words “not guilty” were pronounced.

On the other side of the Orlando courtroom, the families of the victims of the June 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting sat stone-faced and silent.

Within hours, Salman was released from jail after 14 months and got into a waiting car without answering questions.

“Noor is so grateful. Her belief in the process was shown. She wants to get back to her son,” her attorney Linda Moreno said. Family spokeswoman Susan Clary said Salman’s family “always thought that Noor was the first victim” of her husband, Omar Mateen.

The verdict reverberated through Orlando and legal circles beyond.

“The government rarely, rarely loses these kinds of cases. It’s got every single factor on its side,” said David Oscar Markus, a Miami attorney who routinely tries federal cases. “It’s a pretty impressive win for the defense and a devastating loss for the government.”

Mateen, the American-born son of Afghan immigrants, was killed by police after opening fire in the name of the Islamic State group.

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