By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jose Pimentel, an American Muslim convert accused of building a pipe bomb, has been formally indicted by a grand jury, his lawyer said Wednesday.
The indictment has been filed but will remain sealed until March 13, when Pimentel, 27, appears in a Manhattan court to enter a plea on the charges, said one of his lawyers, Lori Cohen. The exact charges he faces will not be known until then.
A spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney's office confirmed the court date but would not comment further.
Pimentel, a Dominican-born U.S. citizen, was initially arrested on terrorism, conspiracy and weapons charges in November. Under New York law, prosecutors must secure a grand jury indictment following an arrest before proceeding with the case.
A police informant secretly recorded meetings with Pimentel over several months as he bought bomb-making materials and read online instructions on how to assemble them, according to court documents. Authorities have said he planned to attack post offices, police stations and military personnel in and around New York City.
Pimentel's lawyers have said he posed no real threat and was a victim of police "overreaching."
The case had been delayed several times since November, in part to give the two sides time to discuss a potential plea deal.
It represents the second case brought by the Manhattan district attorney's office under New York anti-terrorism laws passed in the wake of the September 11 attacks. The other, which is still pending, involves a Moroccan-born American citizen and an Algerian arrested last spring for allegedly plotting to bomb synagogues in the city.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst)