U.S. trial for accused bin Laden spokesman postponed to January 20

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 06, 2015 5:55 PM

By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. trial of alleged al Qaeda associate Khalid al-Fawwaz, accused of running Osama bin Laden's London media operation, was postponed on Tuesday by a week until Jan. 20 in light of the recent death of his co-defendant, Abu Anas al-Liby.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan agreed to push back the start of the trial at a hearing in Manhattan federal court, four days after al-Liby died in a New York hospital.

Prosecutors from the office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara had consented to a one-week delay, while defense lawyers for al-Fawwaz asked Kaplan to consider a two-month postponement.

Both men were indicted more than a decade ago in connection with the deadly bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.

Al-Liby, 50, whose real name was Nazih-al-Ragye, was captured by U.S. forces in October 2013 in Libya and brought to the United States soon after to face federal charges in Manhattan.

Prosecutors said he died from "complications arising out of his longstanding medical problems" in a court filing.

Al-Liby's family had said he suffered from liver disease. In an interview with Reuters on Saturday, al-Liby's son, Ahmed al-Ragye, blamed U.S. authorities for his death, claiming he developed cancer while in U.S. prison and did not receive proper treatment.

Al-Fawwaz, a 52-year-old Saudi national, is accused of setting up a media information office for bin Laden in London and facilitating communications among al Qaeda members. He faces up to life in prison if convicted at trial, which is expected to last approximately a month.

Another co-defendant in the case, Egyptian Adel Abdul Bary, pleaded guilty in September to three counts in connection with the bombings. He faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced next week, although he will likely receive credit for approximately 15 years he has already spent in custody in the United Kingdom and the United States.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Tom Brown)