WASHINGTON: The Libyan militia leader charged over a deadly attack on the American mission in Benghazi pleaded not guilty during a brief appearance in a United States (US) federal court on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
A federal grand jury indicted Ahmed Abu Khatallah during the rare session on a single charge of conspiracy to provide material sup-port and resources to terrorists for the at-tacks that killed US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans two years ago.
He was flown to Washington by helicopter shortly after sunrise from a US Navy warship where he had been held and interrogated since his high-profile capture two weeks ago.
The suspect, believed to be 43 and also known as Ahmed Mukatallah, listened to the court proceedings through an interpreter and raised his right hand before public defender Shelli Peterson entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.
Wearing a dark tracksuit, Abu Khatallah had a long, dark gray beard and mustache with curly hair, court sketches showed. He was not handcuffed.
The case’s lead prosecutor warned that the Justice Department could bring additional charges against Abu Khatallah during the ongoing investigation about the assault that saw gunmen storm the US mission in Benghazi and set it on fire.
“Right now, the right move was to not show all your cards at once,” a senior law enforcement official explained.
A Central Intelligence Agency annex was also targeted in the attacks that shocked Washington, quickly growing into a highly charged political issue.