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  • FILE - This file image made available by Al-Jazeera shows Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and spokesman. A January trial date was set Tuesday, April 9, 2013 for Abu Ghaith on charges that he conspired to kill Americans in his role as al-Qaida's chief spokesman _ a delay the judge said was due to the automatic, across-the-board federal spending cuts that kicked in on March 1. (AP Photo/Al-Jazeera, File)

Tuesday, April 09, 2013 7:56 pm

Jan. 7 trial date set for bin Laden's son-in-law


Osama bin Laden's son-in-law will go on trial in January on charges that he conspired to kill Americans in his role as al-Qaida's chief spokesman, a judge said Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan announced the Jan. 7 date for Sulaiman Abu Ghaith in a one-sentence order.

Kaplan said he had hoped to start the trial as early as this fall until a public defender complained at a hearing Monday that across-the-board federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, would force some lawyers to be furloughed for more than five weeks, making it impossible to prepare for trial quickly.

The judge said he found it "extremely troublesome" and "stunning" that sequestration was interfering with the prosecution.

Abu Ghaith, who has pleaded not guilty, was brought to the United States last month to face charges that he urged the death of Americans after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

His attorneys say they plan to file several pretrial motions challenging the prosecution, including requests that the trial be moved away from a courthouse several blocks from the World Trade Center complex and that a lengthy statement Abu Ghaith provided to U.S. authorities be suppressed.

Prosecutors say evidence against Abu Ghaith includes a widely circulated video of him in early October 2001 sitting with bin Laden and current al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri and another in which he calls on every Muslim to join the fight against the United States, declaring that "jihad is a duty."