Judge agrees to free Noor Salman, widow of Orlando nightclub shooter

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) — The widow of the gunman who killed dozens of people at a Florida nightclub is not a danger to the public and will be released from jail ahead of her trial on charges of aiding the attack, a federal judge in California decided Wednesday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu also said there is no evidence that Noor Salman, 31, has connections to the Islamic State group or holds extremist views. Her husband, Omar Mateen, pledged allegiance to several terror organizations during the shooting that killed 49 people at Pulse nightclub in Orlando before police killed him.

Prosecutors argued against Salman's release on bail, calling her a danger to the public. She will stay behind bars for two days so the government can appeal.

The judge said Salman was not a flight risk and will wear an electronic ankle monitor while she lives with her uncle in Northern California. After the June 12 attack, she moved from Orlando to her mother's suburban San Francisco home, where she was arrested in January.

In a statement posted to social media, Orlando police Chief John Mina said he was disappointed by the turn of events.

"Nothing can erase the pain we all feel about the senseless and brutal murders of 49 of our neighbors, friends, family members and loved ones," he wrote. "But I have full faith that she will ultimately be brought to justice."

Salman's mother and uncle put up their houses to guarantee that Salman won't flee. Ryu called the conditions of Salman's release "essentially house arrest," because she can only leave for court appearances, meetings with her local attorneys and doctor's appointments.

A family friend, Maisa Mustafa, said she is happy to hear that Salman could be released.

“I’m very happy because she’s innocent and she’s not the kind of person to do these things at all,” Mustafa said. “She likes to dress up, have fun, she celebrates Christmas. She’s not religious at all.”

Mustafa added that the family is eager to reunite Salman with her 4-year-old son.

“He’s missing his mommy and every night he cry because she used to tuck him in, sleep next him, tell him stories. Every night he cries.”

Salman has pleaded not guilty to charges of aiding and abetting Mateen and lying to investigators after the shooting. A trial has not been scheduled.

Prosecutors accused her of accompanying Mateen on scouting trips to the bar.

Salman initially said she didn't know anything about the attack but later told investigators Mateen abused steroids, was "pumped up" on the night of the attack and said "this is the one day" as he walked out the door, federal prosecutor Sara Sweeney has said in court.

Sweeney also said the couple ran up $25,000 in credit card debt and spent $5,000 in cash in the days before the shooting. Among the purchases was an $8,000 diamond ring for Salman. In addition, they made Salman the death beneficiary of his bank account, prosecutors said.

Salman's attorney, Charles Swift, said outside court earlier this month that Salman made those statements without a lawyer present during an 18-hour interrogation immediately after the attack.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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