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Orlando Shooter's Wife Arrested On Federal Charges

Law enforcement officials work at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in June following the mass shooting.
Chris O'Meara
Law enforcement officials work at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in June following the mass shooting.

Noor Salman, the wife of Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, has been arrested on federal charges.

Salman is charged with "Aiding and Abetting by providing material support to a terrorist and Obstruction of Justice," Orlando Police Chief John Mina said in a statement.

On June 12, 2016, 49 people died when Mateen opened fire at Pulse in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. He was killed in a firefight with police.

Salman is due to make her initial court appearance at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in Oakland, Calif., according to a tweet from the U.S. attorney's office for the Middle District of Florida.

"This is an example of the fact that investigations do continue long after they're publicly discussed," U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said during an interview with MSNBC. "It was always our goal, and we said from the beginning, we were going to look at every aspect of this case, every aspect of this shooter's life, to determine not just why did he take these actions, but who else knew about them, was anyone else involved, is there any other accountability that needs to be had here in this case."

Mateen and Salman married in 2011 in Contra Costa County, Calif., as The Two-Way has reported. She moved to the San Francisco area after her husband's death, according to The Associated Press.

"I was unaware of everything," Salman told The New York Times in a November interview. "I don't condone what he has done. I am very sorry for what has happened. He has hurt a lot of people."

In a statement to NPR, Salman's attorney Linda Moreno reiterated that her client was not aware of Mateen's plans:

"Noor Salman had no foreknowledge nor could she predict what Omar Mateen intended to do that tragic night. Noor has told her story of abuse at his hands. We believe it is misguided and wrong to prosecute her and that it dishonors the memories of the victims to punish an innocent person."

As NPR's Dina Temple-Raston has reported, Salman has cooperated with authorities but there are inconsistencies in her story:

"For example, she said she didn't know that the attack was coming, but she also told authorities that she tried to talk him out of the attack. She was with him when he bought ammunition last week. She actually joined him at the Pulse nightclub before the attack, although it's possible she didn't know that he was there to case the place. So a grand jury is looking at all of this. It's not clear if they'll bring charges, but they're certainly considering that."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.