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Bin Laden's Son-In-Law Pleads Not Guilty

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the son-in-law of Osama bin Laden who is now in U.S. custody, pleaded not guilty this morning to a charge of conspiracy to kill Americans.

On Morning Edition moments ago, NPR's Dina Temple-Raston said it isn't known yet whether he may face additional charges.

Abu Ghaith, 48, appeared in a Manhattan federal court. As Dina reported for us Thursday:

"His capture is considered important not just because he was so close to bin Laden but also because U.S. officials have decided to try him in a federal court, not Guantanamo Bay.

"Abu Ghaith may be best known for his multiple appearances in al-Qaida propaganda videos. In one, shortly after 9-11, he is seen sitting next to his father-in-law, the founder of al-Qaida, as he took credit for the Sept. 11 attacks. Then Abu Ghaith took the microphone to praise the attacks as well. ...

"Sources familiar with the case say bin Laden's son-in-law left Iran last month to travel to Turkey. He entered the country under a false passport and Turkish authorities subsequently found him and arrested him in a luxury hotel in Ankara, the Turkish capital. They held him briefly but then decided that they couldn't detain him because hadn't committed a crime on Turkish soil."

Reuters adds that prosecutors said the evidence they have includes videos and audio recordings, and that they expect the trial will last three weeks. A trial date has not yet been set.

The Associated Press reports that prosecutors said Abu Ghaith gave an "extensive statement" to U.S. officials after his arrest.

Update at 2:45 p.m. ET. Suspect Didn't Speak:

Dina tells us that Abu Ghaith "didn't say a word." It was his lawyer who entered the not guilty plea. Prosecutors said Abu Ghaith's statement after his arrest came to 22 pages, she adds.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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