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Abu Hamza al-Masri pleads not guilty to US terrorism charges

Jane Rosenberg / Reuters

In this courtroom sketch, Islamist cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri is seen standing with his lawyer Jeremy Schneider in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where he pleaded not guilty to criminal charges on Tuesday.

An extremist preacher accused of terrorism by the U.S. government pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges related to conspiring with Seattle men to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon.

Egyptian-born Abu Hamza al-Masri, indicted under that name Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, is accused of providing material support to al-Qaida network by trying to set up a terrorist training camp in Bly, Ore., in 1999 and of attempting to organize support for the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Hamza is also charged with helping abduct 16 hostages — including two Americans — in Yemen in 1998; three Britons and an Australian were killed.

After Hamza's plea, U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest set the 54-year-old's trial to begin Aug. 26, 2013, The Associated Press reported.

Previous story: Abu Hamza, 4 others tied to al-Qaida arrive in US to face terrorism charges

Hamza, a British citizen, is known for turning London's Finsbury Park Mosque into a training ground for extremist Islamists, including Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and "shoe bomber" Richard Reid. Hamza had been jailed in Britain since 2004 on separate charges.

He was flown late on Friday to the United States along with four other men also wanted on U.S. terrorism charges. Hamza could face up to life in prison if convicted on the charges.

He reportedly has unusual needs in prison: He is missing an eye, he has lost part of each of his arms, and lawyers in England said he suffers from diabetes, depression and chronic sleep deprivation.

Earlier Tuesday, the trial date for two of the other men brought from England — Khaled al-Fawwaz and Adel Abdul Bary — was set for October 2013. Al-Fawwaz and Bary are charged with participating in the bombings of embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in August 1998. The two were indicted in a case that also charged Osama bin Laden. Both al-Fawwaz and Bary have pleaded not guilty.

This article includes reporting by The Associated Press and Reuters.

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