SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Eleven Muslim students have pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the disruption of a speech by the Israeli ambassador to the United States at a California university.
The students were arraigned Friday on misdemeanor conspiracy to disturb a meeting and misdemeanor disturbance of a meeting.
The case has stoked an intense debate about freedom of speech, and defense lawyers are seeking to have the have Orange County district attorney, Tony Rackauckas, removed from the prosecution.
The students were arrested on Feb. 8, 2010, at the University of California, Irvine, after shouting in protest at the speech on U.S.-Israeli security.
The interruptions forced Ambassador Michael Oren to halt his remarks for 20 minutes.
Seven of the defendants entered their pleas in person. Four other pleas were entered by defense attorneys.
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