Libyan militia leader Ahmed Abu Khatallah pleads 'not guilty' to a federal terrorism charge related to the attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
Dressed in a hooded sweatshirt and unshackled, the Libyan militia leader and alleged mastermind behind the deadly 2012 Benghazi attack pleads not guilty to terror charges in U.S. District Court in Washington on Saturday (June 28)
He was charged at an afternoon hearing with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists resulting in death in the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi.
The Sept. 11, 2012, the attack triggered a political firestorm for President Barack Obama, with Republicans accusing his administration of misrepresenting the circumstances and of lax protection for diplomats.
The charge against Khatallah includes malicious damage to and destruction of U.S. property by fires and explosives. It carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, the Justice Department said. The department said it intended to file additional charges shortly.
Khatallah was not shackled when he appeared before Magistrate Judge John Facciola and kept his hands behind him as he gave answers through an interpreter. He wore a dark hoodie and black trousers and had long gray hair and a gray beard.
"You conspired, that is to say, you agreed with other people, to provide material support and resources to terrorists, including yourself, knowing that that support and those resources would be used in killing a person in the course of an attack on a federal facility involving the use of firearms and dangerous weapons," Facciola told the defendant.
The judge appointed a public defender and Khatallah was taken out of the courthouse in a motorcade after the 10-minute hearing. U.S. officials did not say where he would be held.
Federal charges filed against him in July 2013 but kept under court seal until this month also included killing a person on U.S. property and a firearms violation.
There was heightened security around the federal courthouse building, which is blocks from the U.S. Capitol and across the street from the National Gallery of Art, prime tourist destinations in Washington. Two or three armed U.S. marshals patrolled the perimeter of the building.
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