US & Canada

Pulse nightclub shooting: Gunman's wife pleads innocence

Noor Salman (L) and Omar Mateen (R) Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Noor Salman (L) said she had no knowledge of the plans by Omar Mateen (R)

The widow of the man who killed 49 people at a Florida gay nightclub has pleaded not guilty to two charges of helping him carry out the attack and obstructing the course of justice.

Noor Salman, 30, is due to reappear in court in a fortnight, when it is expected more evidence will be presented against her.

Her family say she is a victim herself and innocent of the charges.

Her husband Omar Mateen was killed in a shootout with police on 12 June.

He had killed 49 people and injured 53 others by the end of a three-hour standoff at Orlando's Pulse nightclub.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Al Salman defended his niece outside the court in Oakland, California, on Tuesday

Ms Salman on Wednesday was accused in a California court of aiding and abetting her husband's efforts to support the group known as Islamic State and of misleading police investigators and FBI agents on the day of the attack.

It has been described as the worst mass shooting in modern US history.

Ms Salman was not there when it took place.

The prosecution's indictment on Tuesday alleged that she knew he was going to conduct the attack.

Ms Salman appeared in court dressed on Wednesday wearing an orange jail uniform and remained silent throughout the proceedings. The two not guilty pleas were read out on her behalf by an attorney.

She is the first person to be prosecuted in the US in relation to the attack and could be imprisoned for life if she is convicted.

Details of who will represent her, where she will be detained and when she will be transferred to Florida are expected to be determined at later hearings.

She was arrested on Sunday in the San Francisco area after moving there from Florida following the attack.

Al Salman, an uncle of the 30-year-old woman, on Tuesday said that his niece was "simple and innocent" and was physically and mentally abused by Omar Mateen.

He asserted that she knew nothing about her husband's plan to attack the nightclub.

During the attack, Mateen called police to pledge support for Islamic State.