Libya demands US to handover Benghazi suspect

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TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — The Libyan government on Wednesday denied it had prior knowledge of the U.S. capture of a top suspect in the deadly 2012 assault on Americans in Benghazi and demanded his return.

In a statement read on television, the interim government condemned the seizure of Ahmed Abu Khattala, who the U.S. accuses of involvement in the attack on its consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Abu Khattala is headed for the United States to face what President Barak Obama called "the full weight of the American justice system." Obama called the Libyan an "alleged key leader" of the attack.

"The government stresses its right to try Abu Khattala on its territories and according to its laws," The Libyan statement said.

"It also demands his safety be ensured," it added, saying the man was also wanted by Libyan authorities but because of the volatile security situation in Benghazi they had not been able to arrest him.

Benghazi is the birthplace of Libya's 2011 uprising which ended with the overthrow and killing of longtime rule of Moammar Gadhafi after an eight-month civil war. Over the past year, it has witnessed a sharp rise of assassinations, bombings and assaults on security forces and civilians.

Abu Khattala's Sunday capture came as Benghazi has been facing near daily clashes between forces allied to renegade general Khalifa Hifter and Islamist militias, including Ansar al-Shariah, the group blamed for the attack on US consulate.

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