ANCHORAGE - U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens will testify at his federal corruption trial, he said Friday.
Stevens is accused of lying on Senate disclosure forms about hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and renovations to his Girdwood home received form VECO Corp., an oil services company whose employees normally build oil pipelines and processing equipment.
The trial starts Monday with jury selection in Washington, D.C. He was indicted July 29. He sought and received a speedy trial ahead of the November general election.
Stevens maintained his innocence during a news conference Friday in Anchorage.
"I have said I am innocent of the charges against me and I think the trial will show that," Stevens said.
He urged Alaskans to reserve judgment until all the evidence is in.
Stevens, 84, the Senate's longest-serving Republican, also is seeking re-election in November. He says he plans to return to the state as much as possible during the trial, expected to last at least three weeks.
Stevens, who faces Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, a Democrat, in the general election, said he ought to be able to make it back to Alaska several times in October when court is not in session, perhaps around the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah and on Columbus Day.
Stevens said he plans to be back in Washington today so that he will be ready for the start of the trial. He said he will attend court during the day and head to the Senate in the afternoons or evenings.
"I am not worried about my participation," Stevens said.
Congress is scheduled to adjourn next Friday, in time to allow those running for re-election to campaign before the Nov. 4 election.
Stevens declined to answer questions about the trial or how it will affect his campaign, saying that political questions were off-limits because the news conference was held on government property, at the federal building.
Stevens told a person from the Alaska Democratic Party who showed up with a video camera that they would have to leave the room.
"This is not a political event," Stevens said. "I can't take political questions."
Begich spokeswoman Julie Hasquet said she hopes the senator will be able to debate Begich face-to-face before the election. Voters deserve that, she said.
"Mark Begich is running the same campaign he planned to run from day one, which is all about the issues," Hasquet said. "It was Senator Stevens' decision to be in a courtroom right now. He wanted a speedy trial."
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