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John Edwards appears in court but makes no comment

Handout booking image of former Senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards
Handout booking image of former Senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards

GREENSBORO, North Carolina (Reuters) - Former U.S. senator and presidential candidate John Edwards appeared at a brief court hearing in Greensboro, North Carolina on Tuesday but made no comments to the media about the criminal case against him.

Edwards, 58, was indicted on June 3 for using nearly $1 million in illegal campaign funds to help cover up an extramarital affair he had while seeking the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

He has pleaded not guilty to federal charges including conspiracy, taking illegal campaign contributions and making false statements.

A July trial date has been postponed. The judge on Tuesday set the next hearing for late July.

Edwards' attorney James P. Cooney III also had no comment after the hearing. He previously has said a trial is not expected until fall at the earliest.

The indictment accuses Edwards of secretly getting the money from benefactors to help hide his affair with a campaign worker, Rielle Hunter, knowing that revelations of the liaison and her pregnancy would thwart his political aspirations.

Prosecutors said the gifts were an attempt to circumvent election laws. Edwards' attorneys dispute that any laws were broken, saying the gifts were used to keep the affair hidden from his now-deceased wife, Elizabeth.

(Reporting by Ned Barnett; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Greg McCune)

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