Benghazi attack suspect appears in US court

Photo: Benghazi attack suspect appears in US court / Arabic region

Libyan militia leader Ahmed Abu Khatallah has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to aid a 2012 attack on a US consulate in Benghazi which killed four American nationals, Anadolu Agency reported.

Khatallah, a Libyan national approximately 43 years of age, appeared in a US federal court in Washington DC on Saturday to be charged with conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists which resulted in the death of the US Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens and CIA contractors, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty in the attack on September 11, 2012.

The charge against Khatallah carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, according to the US Justice Department, which said it intended to file further charges.

He was captured on 15 June by US special forces in Libya and held on the US naval vessel USS New York for questioning for two weeks.

"Now that Ahmed Abu Khatallah has arrived in the United States, he will face the full weight of our justice system," said US Attorney General Eric Holder.

The US State Department claims Khatallah was a "senior leader" of the Benghazi branch of Ansar al-Shari'a, a militant group with ties to attacks on US diplomatic facilities in Benghazi.

The attack on the US diplomatic compound sparked controversy at the time for US President Barack Obama, with Republicans accusing his administration of misrepresenting the circumstances behind the raid and of failing to protect US diplomats.

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