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Benghazi attack suspect pleads not guilty

Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the alleged suspect of the deadly attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, entered a not guilty plea in federal court in Washington on Saturday.

According to court sources, prosecutors also unveiled a one- count grand jury indictment charging him with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism resulting in death. The crime is punishable by up to life in prison, or death.

The suspect said little during his brief appearance before a federal magistrate, said officials close to the sources. He arrived in Washington Saturday morning after being captured in Libya almost two weeks ago and being transported here via a U.S. Navy ship.

Local law experts noted that now that Abu Khatallah has arrived in the United States, he will face the full weight of justice system of the United States.

Abu Khatallah is charged with "conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists, knowing and intending that these would be used in preparation for and in carrying out a killing in the course of an attack on a federal facility, and the offense resulted in death," according to a court statement.

The investigation is ongoing and the Justice Department can bring additional charges on the Libyan man, the statement said.

An earlier criminal complaint in July 2013 said the FBI believed it had evidence to charge him with murder and firing a weapon at the scene of the Benghazi attacks. Those additional charges, if formally added, could bring the death penalty.

The evidence showed that Abu Khatallah is among the senior leaders of Ansar al Sharia, whose members were among several militias that participated in the attacks on U.S. government facilities in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.

The attacks, which killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, stirred up a political dispute in the U.S. because some Republican lawmakers claim the Obama administration tried to mislead the public about them and should have done more to prevent them.

[Source: Xinhua, Washington, 29Jun14]

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