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October 10, 2012

Terror suspect pleads not guilty to charge

NEW YORK — An Egyptian-born preacher pleaded not guilty Tuesday to conspiring with Seattle men to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon, three days after he and four others were brought to the United States from England to face terrorism charges.

Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, 54, entered the plea shortly before U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest set an Aug. 26 trial date. Mustafa, widely known by the name Abu Hamza al-Masri, also is accused of helping abduct 16 hostages, two of them American tourists, in Yemen in 1998.

“He’s presumed innocent,” his court-appointed lawyer, Jeremy Schneider, said outside court afterward.

Schneider said his client prefers to be known as Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, the name listed first on his indictment.

There was no mention in court Tuesday about access to the prosthetics — including a hook — that Mustafa uses in place of the hands he says he lost fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, but Schneider said outside court that it was a problem for him.

“I believe he has use of them for a certain part of the day but not long enough to allow him to function the way he should function,” he said.

He also is missing an eye. His lawyers in England said he suffers from depression, chronic sleep deprivation, diabetes and other ailments.

Earlier Tuesday, two men brought from England to face terrorism charges on Saturday along with Mustafa made their first appearance before U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who set an October 2013 trial date.

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