Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 9:22 am
Ali Harzi, the only person who had been known to be in custody in connection with last September's attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, has been released by authorities in his native Tunisia, the suspect's lawyer tell The Associated Press.
Attorney Anwar Oued-Ali said his client is free because of a lack of evidence that he was involved in the attack that led to the deaths of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. But, the lawyer added, Harzi has been ordered to remain in Tunisia. "He has returned to his family," another of the 26-year-old Harzi's lawyers told Agence France Presse.
Harzi is one of two men who were detained by authorities in Turkey last October when they reportedly tried to enter that country with fake passports. After about a week in Turkey, according to The Daily Beast, Harzi was sent to Tunisia. Last month, the AP says, he was questioned by FBI agents. The whereabouts of the other person detained in Turkey are not known, but there are no reports to indicate he too was suspected of involvement in the Benghazi attack.
The Daily Beast has previously reported that it was told by a "U.S. intelligence officer" that Harzi has been a member of extremist groups in North Africa and has connections to "jihadist organizations in the Middle East."
At first blamed on anger over an anti-Islam video produced in California, the attack on the U.S. mission has since been called a deliberate act by terrorists with ties to al-Qaida. The Obama administration has come under sharp criticism for not doing more to safeguard the mission and for some of its statements in the days immediately after the attack.