A mentally ill British man accused of trying to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon has pleaded not guilty to four terrorism charges just after arriving in New York from Great Britain, where he had fought extradition for years.
Haroon Aswat spoke softly, telling US District Judge Katherine B Forrest “I do” when she asked if he understood he had the right to remain silent and again when she asked if he knew anything he said could be used against him.
Wearing a blue jumpsuit, he pleaded not guilty to two conspiracy counts and two counts of providing material support to terrorists. If convicted, he faces up to 35 years in prison.
London’s Metropolitan Police said Aswat was taken from Broadmoor psychiatric hospital west of London and escorted onto a plane by US officials earlier in the day.
His New York arrival was announced Tuesday afternoon by prosecutors, the FBI and New York City police.
He was scheduled to be transferred Wednesday morning to a prison facility that can treat his medical issues, lawyers said.
Aswat is accused of conspiring with radical cleric Mustafa Kamel Mustafa – also known as Abu Hamza al-Masri – to set up a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon, 15 years ago.
Aswat had been fighting extradition since he was transferred from Zambia, where he was arrested in July 2005, to the United Kingdom, where he was moved in August 2005. He has been treated for paranoid schizophrenia. On Sept. 4, the United Kingdom ordered Aswat extradited to the United States.
His lawyer, Peter Quijano, said Aswat was taking anti-psychotic and antidepressant drugs daily, as well as sometimes taking a medication to aid sleep.
Outside court, Quijano said the evidence against his client wasn’t similar to the evidence against Mustafa.
He said the charges pertained to “much more narrow conduct than he’s charged with.”
“It’s completely different,” Quijano said.