PORTLAND, Ore. -- The man accused of plotting to kill thousands in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square during a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony pleaded not guilty in court Monday to charges of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
Wearing a light blue button down shirt, blue pants and leg restraints, 19-year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud greeted his public defender with a smile and handshake in court Monday. He did not address family members present.
Federal agents in a sting operation arrested him just as he tried blowing up a van he believed was loaded with explosives at the crowded Christmas tree lighting ceremony Friday in Portland, authorities said. The bomb was an elaborate fake supplied by the agents and the public was never in danger, authorities said.
The Somali-born American pleaded not guilty and a date for a 15-day jury trial was set for February 1.
Multimedia: Bomb plot timeline
Investigators said Mohamud plotted "a spectacular show" of terrorism for months, saying he didn't mind that children would die if he bombed the crowded ceremony, according to a law-enforcement official and court documents. Read the affidavit
A judge denied chief deputy public defender Stephen Sady's request for any preliminary hearing. Sady argued that the complaint became "basically a press release regarding this case" since that by Saturday, law enforcement and the U.S. Attorneys office had already spoken to the press in an "arrest timed for maximum impact and maximum publicity."
Sady argued that agents failed to record initial meetings between undercvover agents and Mohammud.
Denying requests for pretrial herarings, the judge said Sady's arguments would better made in a motion to suppress evidence or dismiss charges once in trial.
The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Sady said they hoped to cross examine the lead FBI agent named in affadavit and that "quite sophisticated govt agents" were "basically grooming" Mohamud.