A Somali teenager accused of leading last month's hijacking of an American cargo ship has pleaded not guilty to piracy charges.

Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse entered his plea Thursday during a short appearance in U.S. District Court in New York.

Earlier this week, Muse was indicted on 10 counts that include piracy, hostage-taking, kidnapping, and possession of a machine gun while seizing a ship by force.

Prosecutors said Muse led the band of pirates that briefly hijacked the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama near Somalia last month.  

The U.S. Navy took him into custody April 12 during operations that freed captain Richard Phillips and killed the three other pirates.

U.S. authorities believe Muse to be at least 18, old enough to be tried as an adult, though his parents have said he is younger.

He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.



Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.