Benghazi Attack Suspect Pleads Not Guilty in U.S. Court

U.S. marshals guard the area outside of the federal U.S. District Court in Washington Saturday, June 28, 2014, after security was heightened in anticipation of a possible court appearance by captured Libyan militant Ahmed Abu Khattala later in the day.

WASHINGTON — The Libyan militant accused of masterminding the deadly Benghazi attacks that have become a flashpoint in U.S. politics pleaded not guilty to conspiracy Saturday in a federal courtroom in Washington, D.C..
Ahmed Abu Khattala made his initial court appearance amid tight security.

A grand jury indictment said Abu Khattala took part in a conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists in the 2012 attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
In court, he wore a two-piece black tracksuit and kept his hands, which were not handcuffed, behind his back. He looked impassively at the judge for most of the 10-minute court hearing.
His court appointed lawyer, Michele Peterson, entered the not guilty plea.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John Facciola ordered the defendant's continued detention, but Facciola did not say where Abu Khattala would be held.
The indictment was handed up under seal on Thursday, and was made public Saturday afternoon.
"Now that Ahmed Abu Khatallah has arrived in the United States, he will face the full weight of our justice system," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said, according to CNN. "We will prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant's alleged role in the attack that killed four brave Americans in Benghazi."
The government said it would file more charges against him soon.

Abu Khattala spoke just two words during the hearing, both in Arabic. He replied "yes" when asked to swear to tell the truth and "no" when asked if he was having trouble understanding the proceeding.
He wore headphones to listen to a translation of the proceedings. He had a beard and long curly hair, both mostly gray.
Authorities interrogated Abu Khattala aboard the USS New York after he was captured earlier this month, CNN reported. He was flown to D.C. from the ship by helicopter, and driven to the federal courthouse on Saturday.

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