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Bin Laden Spokesman Pleads Not Guilty On Terror Charges

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TWC News: Bin Laden Spokesman Pleads Not Guilty On Terror Charges
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The case against Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, is expected to return to court next month after he pleaded not guilty to terror charges Friday. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith was in federal court for about 20 minutes Friday. He had nothing to say. His defense lawyers said he is not guilty of the charges against him.

The government alleges that Abu Ghaith conspired and plotted with al-Qaeda to kill Americans.

"From at least May 2001 up to and around 2002, Abu Ghaith served alongside Osama bin Laden, appearing with bin Laden and his then-deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, speaking on behalf of the terrorist organization in support of its mission, and warning that attacks similar to as 9/11 would continue," said White House Deputy Press Secretary John Earnest.

In court, federal prosecutors said Abu Ghaith was arrested overseas by U.S. law enforcement on February 28 and arrived in New York last Saturday.

Prosecutors said Abu Ghaith gloated on the day after the September 11th attacks, saying in a video that a great army was gathering against the United States.

Later, in a speech, he warned of a storm of airplanes and advised Muslims, children and al-Qaeda allies to stay out of planes and high-rise buildings.

Abu Ghaith is being held in the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center, not far from the court. It's also not far from the World Trade Center site.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on his radio show Friday that he's not concerned about the fact that Abu Ghaith's trial is scheduled to be held here.

"It is the federal government's choice," Bloomberg said. "Would I have preferred to have it elsewhere? I'm not going to get involved in that, because I don't want to make the president's job any more difficult. He's got to decide, or his attorney general has to decide what they're going to do, tell us whatever it is. We have a well-trained and adequate police department to provide them with any services they need, if any."

Prosecutors said there is classified information involved in the terror trial. They said the public and the media may have to be barred from some courtroom proceedings.

The judge said he wants all sides back in court in April to discuss that issue a little more. He said he also wants to set a trial date at that point.

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