By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 29 June 2014:
Islamist leader Ahmed Bukhatallah, who was seized in Benghazi and delivered to US . . .[restrict]special forces nearly two weeks ago for his alleged involvement in the killing US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Amercian diplomatic staff, has pleaded not guilty in a Washington court.
He was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to the killers of Stevens and the three others on 11 September 2012. He had already been indicted on the charges in his absence by a US grand jury court. Yesterday’s hearing lasted ten minutes.
Bukhatallah has claimed in several interviews that he had no involvement with the killings. He has said his presence at US diplomatic facilities on the night of the murders in Benghazi came out of a desire to know what was happening there.
The Washington Post quoted US law enforcement officials as saying Bukhatallah had been questioned during his journey to the United States abroad the amphibious transport dock the USS New York. The substance of these interrogations is a closely guarded secret.
Libya has condemned the US capture of Bukhatallah. Shortly after he was seized Justice Minister Salah Marghani demanded Bukatallah’s safe return saying the Islamist leader was wanted in Libya in connection with the attacks on 11 September 2012 as well as a number of other unspecified cases.
The government has said it had no prior knowledge of US special forces’ mission to capture Bukhatallah.
The US has launched a criminal complaint against Bukhatallah on three counts. He is charged with killing a person during an attack on a federal facility, supporting terrorists and carrying and using a firearm during a crime. His single charge of conspiracy to provide material support, for which he faces life imprisonment, is being used to bide time, it has been said, to avoid revealing details of the case in public while more evidence is gathered.
Another official is quoted as saying that in coming weeks the other charges could be added to Bukhatallah’s current single charge. If he is convicted on any of the other three he could face the death penalty.