Federal prosecutors have turned over more than 2,900 pages of documents and 45 hours of videos to the defense for Ahmed Abu Khattala, the suspected ringleader of the September 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, but need more time to prepare the terrorism conspiracy case, according to a court filing released overnight Friday.
In a motion asking U.S. District Judge Christopher C. Cooper to postpone a scheduled Tuesday hearing by 30 to 45 days, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen Jr. cited the complexity of processing overseas evidence and witnesses, and the need to review lengthy video recordings, investigative and intelligence files of multiple government agencies and classified materials for release to the defense.
The government sought a delay “given the complexity of this matter and the voluminous nature of the ongoing discovery process,” Machen wrote. He added, “The government has discussed this motion with defense counsel and has been advised that the defendant does not have a position on the government’s motion between now and October 6, 2014.”
Abu Khattala, represented by the federal public defender for D.C., has received more than 2,500 pages of unclassified reports, documents and photographs, and nine videos, prosecutors said. He also has received more than 400 pages of classified discovery and 11 classified videos totaling more than 45 hours, according to Machen.
A federal grand jury in Washington indicted Abu Khattala on June 26 on a single charge of providing material support to terrorists related to the attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on Sept. 11, 2012.
He was captured in Libya in June. At the time of his first court appearance, June 28, a U.S. official said the charge was considered a “place holder” — to avoid revealing more of the case’s evidence while the investigation continued — and probably would be joined by a superseding indictment laying out additional charges and evidence.