WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Justice Department asked the Supreme Court for more time to respond to assertions by lawyers for Terry Nichols that evidence in his case was mishandled by the FBI.

The department asked for a 30-day extension to file a response, which was due Thursday, said Chris Watney, Justice Department spokeswoman.

Nichols, convicted as a conspirator in the April 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, has asked the court for a new trial, contending that the FBI may have deliberately withheld information from both bombing defendants and federal prosecutors.

He made the allegations after the FBI disclosed in May that it had failed to turn over to defense lawyers thousands of pages of bombing documents to lawyers for Nichols and Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber executed June 11.

The court delayed ruling on Nichols' request for a new trial and asked the Justice Department to respond.