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FBI question Benghazi consulate attack suspect

TUNIS — After months of asking for access to him, agents from the FBI questioned the only known suspect in the Sept. 11 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi that killed four diplomats, the suspect’s Tunisian lawyer said Saturday.

Ali Harzi, a Tunisian, was detained in Turkey and extradited in October to Tunisia where authorities have said he is ‘‘strongly suspected’’ of being involved in the attack.

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His lawyer, Anwar Oued-Ali, added that Harzi was also questioned about an attack on the US Embassy in Tunisia a few days later, suggesting that American authorities are trying to determine if there is a connection between the two.

The Sept. 11 assault by armed men in the Libyan city of Benghazi left US Ambassador Chris Stephens and three other Americans dead. Members of an Islamist militia, Ansar al-­Sharia, are suspected in the strike, but there has been little progress in the Libyan investigation into the attack.

A few days later, a mob ­attacked the US Embassy in ­Tunis, which resulted in four deaths. The attack was believed to have been instigated by a group called Ansar al-Sharia, but it is unclear if it is connected to the Libyan organization.

In early November, Senators Lindsey Graham and Saxby Chambliss, both Republicans, said Tunisia had agreed to let the FBI interview Harzi, but it took another month and a half to organize the interview due to legal questions over any infringements on Tunisian sovereignty. In the end, three FBI agents using a translator posed questions to Harzi for three hours through the Tunisian judge presiding over the case.

Harzi’s defense team was not allowed to attend the questioning on the grounds that he was being interviewed as a witness, rather than a defendant.

Harzi is being charged by the Tunisians with ‘‘membership in a terrorist organization.’’ Harzi denies the charges.

Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts said last week that the United States should look into whether the military should play a greater role in protecting diplomats in dangerous regions.

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