In Benghazi attacks, Libyan militant pleads not guilty

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FILE - This undated file image obtained from Facebook shows Ahmed Abu Khattala, an alleged leader of the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya. A Libyan militant was indicted Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, on new charges arising from the 2012 Benghazi attacks, including crimes punishable by the death penalty, the Justice Department said. The new 18-count grand jury indictment, which includes multiple counts of murder, had been widely expected since Abu Khattala was captured in June by U.S. special forces and brought to the United States to face trial. (AP Photo/File)


WASHINGTON — A Libyan militant on Monday pleaded not guilty to charges arising from the 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Ahmed Abu Khattala, 43, entered the plea through his lawyer in a 15-minute court proceeding before a federal judge.

An 18-count grand jury indictment handed up last week makes Abu Khattala eligible for the death penalty if convicted.

Abu Khattala's lawyer, federal public defender Michelle Peterson, said she is waiting for the Justice Department to turn over additional material — much of it classified — on the charges her client faces. The next court date in the case was set for Dec. 9.

Abu Khattala's lawyer has said previously that the government has failed to show Abu Khattala was connected to the attacks.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael DiLorenzo said the government so far has provided the defense with 150 hours of videotape and 4,000 pages of documents.

The charges against Abu Khattala include murder of an internationally protected person, murder of an officer and employee of the United States and killing a person in the course of an attack on a federal facility.

Abu Khattala is the first militant to be prosecuted for the Benghazi attacks.

The Sept. 11, 2012, attack by militants killed Stevens and communications specialist Sean Smith and set the mission ablaze.

Nearly eight hours later at a CIA complex nearby, two more Americans, contract security officers Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, died in a mortar attack that showed clear military training, retired Gen. Carter Ham told Congress in closed-door testimony earlier this year.

The administration apprehended Abu Khattala in June and brought him to the United States to stand trial on terrorism charges.

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