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Bin Laden relative pleads not guilty in terrorism case

NEW YORK — Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden who once served as a spokesman for al-Qaida, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Friday in federal court in Manhattan, where he was charged with conspiring to kill Americans.

John Cronan, an assistant U.S. attorney, said in court that Abu Ghaith had spoken at length with U.S. law enforcement officials after his arrest by federal authorities Feb. 28.

Cronan cited a 22-page document detailing his statements but did not characterize the statements, which were not made public.

Details of both the defendant's role in al-Qaida and his arrest remained unclear.

Abu Ghaith was led into the courtroom wearing handcuffs and a blue prison smock as about a dozen U.S. marshals — an unusually large complement — provided security. His handcuffs were removed for the proceeding.

Abu Ghaith said little beyond a few one-word replies to questions from the judge.

Philip Weinstein, one of three lawyers the judge appointed to represent him, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf during the proceeding, which lasted less than 20 minutes.

Cronan asked that Abu Ghaith be held without bail. Weinstein did not challenge the request but left open the possibility of making a bail application later. .

Officials have said Abu Ghaith, who is said to have lived in Iran for the past decade, was initially detained in Turkey, while staying in a hotel in Ankara, but was taken into U.S. custody in Jordan.

Bin Laden relative pleads not guilty in terrorism case 03/08/13 [Last modified: Saturday, March 9, 2013 2:49am]
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