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US woman silently pleads not guilty in terror case

Jamie Paulin-Ramirez

Jamie Paulin-Ramirez was arrested in Philadelphia Friday on terror charges.AP

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — With a shake of the head, a pregnant Colorado woman pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a charge of helping foreign terrorists who authorities say were plotting to kill a Swedish artist.

Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, 31, entered the silent plea to avoid giving prosecutors a sample of her voice. The government evidence includes hard drives and other computer files that may contain voice recordings, and her lawyer did not want to provide a sample for comparison.

"If there's any voice recordings, I would not want to be creating evidence against her," said lawyer Jeremy Ibrahim, who spent several years at the Justice Department.

Paulin-Ramirez, then a single mother and nursing student, left Colorado for Ireland in the fall with her 6-year-old son to join a Pennsylvania woman she had met online, then married an Algerian terrorism suspect the day she arrived, according to the indictment unsealed Friday. E-mails between the American women suggest a mutual intent to support a Muslim jihad, or holy war, authorities charge.

Co-defendant Colleen LaRose faces a life term on accusations that she pledged to carry out the murder of artist Lars Vilks, who angered Muslims with a drawing depicting the Prophet Muhammad with a dog's body. The lesser charge filed against Paulin-Ramirez carries a maximum 15-year term.

Paulin-Ramirez, who is 12 weeks pregnant, agreed Wednesday to be detained until her trial, which could be many months away. The judge declined to set a date, given the complex nature of the case.

In court, she wore a prison jumpsuit and wire-frame eyeglasses, and her face appeared fuller than in past photos. Her straight blond hair hung loose down her back.

Ibrahim stressed that his client had chosen to return to Philadelphia after learning about the charges.

"She came voluntarily. She didn't choose to fly to any other state, or any other country," he said after the brief hearing.

He had met with her in prison Saturday, a day after she was arrested landing at Philadelphia International Airport, and described her as distraught over her son. The boy has been placed with social services.

Ibrahim also noted that his client had been released by Irish authorities after an anti-terrorism sweep last month that included her, her husband and five others. Hours after the roundup, the LaRose indictment was unsealed in Philadelphia. But Paulin-Ramirez was later released.

"That tells me that, at least in Ireland, there was no evidence the Irish authorities had of an illegal act," Ibrahim said.

LaRose had returned to Philadelphia in October and cooperated with authorities for a time, although it's not clear whether she is still doing so, according to Rep. Charles Dent. He represents her district and serves on House intelligence and homeland security committees.

LaRose, 46, of Pennsburg, has also pleaded not guilty to the four charges lodged against her, including the plot to kill Vilks. He was never harmed.

Neither American woman had friends or family members attend their court appearances in Philadelphia. Ibrahim suggested his client's family could not afford to make the trip from Leadville, Colo.

Acquaintances describe both women as isolated, troubled individuals who spent increasing amounts of time on the Internet, where LaRose allegedly used the online name "Jihad Jane."

There is no evidence the women ever met before they moved to Ireland to join what LaRose hoped, according to the indictment, would be "a training camp as well as a home."

In court Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams did not object to Paulin-Ramirez's silent plea. Prosecutors have otherwise declined to comment on the case.

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