Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo said Friday he would "advocate forcefully" to keep the trial of the professed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks out of New York entirely.
At a press conference with incoming state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Cuomo said he would press his case with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who indicated this week he would soon announce a venue for the trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
Holder originally proposed trying Mohammed in federal court in Manhattan. That prompted an outcry from many city residents and from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who said the costs and security threats to the city would be prohibitive.
Cuomo, a Democrat and the current state attorney general, avoided the matter throughout his campaign. He first indicated his opposition to a New York trial for Mohammed in a radio interview Thursday.
He was more expansive on the matter Friday, telling reporters that any venue in the state was unacceptable.
"I'm the governor-elect, and this is an appropriate issue for the governor to address," Cuomo said. "So I will advocate forcefully for our position. Not in New York."
Asked if he thought the military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, would be a more appropriate location, Cuomo said, "That's their decision. That's Attorney General Eric Holder's decision."
Cuomo and Holder served together in President Bill Clinton's administration, Cuomo as Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary and Holder as deputy attorney general.
The Justice Department originally brought its case against Mohammed and four accomplices in the Southern District of New York. The district encompasses eight counties and has courthouses in White Plains and Middletown, N.Y., as well as the courthouse blocks from ground zero in lower Manhattan.
While the outpouring of political opposition will likely keep the trial out of New York City, at least one upstate mayor has said he would welcome the trial. Mayor Nicholas Valentine of Newburgh has said the trial would bring welcome publicity and an economic boost to his struggling city 60 miles north of Manhattan.