WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama vowed Friday to bring to justice those responsible for last year’s deadly assault on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, and made a public reference to a sealed indictment.
Obama said catching the militants who killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans on Sept. 11 remained a top priority, defending himself by noting that it took his government longer than 11 months to make good on his promise to find Osama bin Laden.
And he said his administration was making progress in its investigation.
“There’s a sealed indictment,” Obama said at a news conference at the White House. “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.”
It’s unusual for a public official to talk openly about grand jury protected material. Sealed criminal charges are supposed to be secret until they’re unsealed.
U.S. officials said earlier this week the Justice Department filed the first criminal charges against an unknown number of people believed responsible, and one official said they included Ahmed Abu Khattala, the head of a prominent Libyan militia.
It was described then as a criminal complaint, not an indictment.
Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon declined to comment Friday about the president’s reference to a sealed indictment.
Republicans have criticized the administration’s response to Benghazi and its shifting explanation of what happened. Obama has promised justice since the attack but has yet to apprehend any suspects.
Associated Press writer Pete Yost contributed to this report.