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Obama confirms sealed U.S. charges in Benghazi attack

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, August 9, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, August 9, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Friday that U.S. authorities had brought criminal charges for the attack in Benghazi, Libya, last year in which U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

Obama said in response to a question at a White House news conference that the charges were under seal and there was little he could say about them.

"It's sealed for a reason, but we are intent on capturing those who carried out this attack and we're going to stay on it until we get them," he said.

When asked, Obama would not say whether U.S. authorities were close to having a suspect in custody. U.S. officials are prohibited by law from discussing matters that are under seal in a court.

It was not clear how many people have been charged.

The Obama administration has been under domestic pressure to find those responsible for the attack on the U.S. diplomatic and intelligence outpost 11 months ago on September 11, 2012.

He urged patience, citing the long but ultimately successful U.S. search for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. "I didn't get him in 11 months," Obama said.

News organizations reported on Tuesday that charges had been filed.

The U.S. Justice Department has declined to comment, except to say that its investigation is continuing ongoing and remains a top priority.

CNN reported on Tuesday that charges had been filed against Ahmed Abu Khattala, a Libyan militia commander. U.S. government sources had previously described Abu Khattala as a suspect.

The charges were the first criminal counts to emerge, CNN said, citing unidentified people briefed on the investigation.

(Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Howard Goller and Sandra Maler)

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