Bin Laden Kin Trial Hits 'Troublesome' Sequester Snag

Suleiman Abu Ghaith faces terror-related charges in NY court.

ByABC News
April 10, 2013, 2:03 PM

April 10, 2013 — -- This story has been updated.

The trial for Osama bin Laden's son-in-law has been set for months later than a New York judge would like due to "troublesome" sequester-related concerns.

Judge Lewis Kaplan had said Tuesday that Suleiman Abu Ghaith, accused member of al Qaeda's early inner circle, could face trial as early as September, around the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks – attacks Ghaith praised in online videos alongside bin Laden.

Abu Ghaith's lawyer contended that a September start would be too soon due to the sequestration's cuts on public defenders, part of a possible $350 million hit to the nation's court system.

Kaplan said today Abu Ghaith's trial is now expected to begin in January 2014.

"It is extremely troublesome to contemplate the possibility of a case of this nature being delayed because of sequestration... Stunning," he said.

Last month Judge Julia Gibbons, chair of the Judicial Conference Budget Committee, testified before Congress that leaving sequestration as is would "have a devastating effect on federal court operations nationwide." She warned the courts could face up to 2,000 layoffs or furloughs before September.

David Patton, executive director of the Federal Defenders of New York, called the effect of sequester on his fellow attorneys "a mess."

"It means that clients will not be visited in prison to review evidence and prepare their case because getting in and out of the Bureau of Prisons can be an hours-long affair. It means that we will have to delay cases, including those of detained clients. It means that factual and legal research will have to be done in less time with fewer resources. And it means that when we can't do the bare minimum on a case, we will ask to be relieved," he said.

"In that instance, a private attorney will have to be appointed who will be paid hourly rates -- which will cost taxpayers more money than if we stayed on the case with proper funding," Patton added.

READ MORE: 57 Terrible Consequences of the Sequester

Abu Ghaith appeared rather suddenly on American soil early last month when U.S. officials revealed he had been arrested in Turkey and then handed over to U.S. authorities in Jordan before being spirited to New York City.

U.S. officials told ABC News at the time that the alleged terrorist had been "cooperating" with investigators and had already provided "key intelligence" about the current status, personnel and finances of al Qaeda.

READ: Bin Laden's Son-in-Law 'Cooperating,' Homeland Chair Says

Abu Ghaith faces charges including conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, according to court documents. He has pleaded not guilty.

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