Washington (CNN) — Federal agents and prosecutors investigating the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi have filed charges against Ahmed Khattalah, leader of a Libyan militia that officials believe was involved in the assault, people briefed on the investigation said. The charges under seal are the first criminal counts to emerge from the probe.
The investigation of the attack last September 11 that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others continues, these people said, as investigators try to build their case against Khattalah and others who authorities believe were involved.
Attorney General Eric Holder had earlier this year promised congressional lawmakers the Justice Department would soon make public what actions it would take.
WASHINGTON—The Justice Department has filed sealed criminal charges against a number of suspects in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three others, according to people familiar with the matter.
The exact nature of the charges wasn’t clear, nor was the number of suspects named in the case. A Justice Department spokesman, Andrew Ames, said the investigation is ongoing.
“It has been and remains a top priority,” he said, declining to comment further.
The lack of public charges has led critics of the Obama administration, particularly Republicans in Congress, to challenge the administration’s handling not just of the immediate response to the attacks, but of the long-term response as well. Some conservatives have accused the administration of covering up its failures on the night of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack, and beforehand—accusations the administration has strenuously denied.