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Homeland Security

Legal Process Begins for Benghazi Terror Suspect

by VOA News June 29, 2014

The accused ringleader of the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges Saturday in a federal court in Washington.

During a 10-minute hearing held amid tight security, Ahmed Abu Khatallah listened to an Arabic translation of the proceedings through headphones.

The United States alleges Khatallah led a conspiracy that resulted in the September 11, 2012, attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

That crime is punishable by up to life in prison, but the government is expected to file additional charges that could lead to the death penalty.

Khatallah's next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday.

U.S. special forces and the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Khatallah earlier this month near Benghazi. Authorities questioned him aboard the Navy ship that brought him to U.S. soil.

Republicans in Congress accuse the Obama administration and State Department of being negligent in providing enough security in a volatile region prone to terrorism.

The case also represents a test of the Obama administration's goal of prosecuting terror suspects in civilian courts in the face of Republican critics who say such defendants aren't entitled to the protections of the American legal system.

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