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U.S. would not send CIA agents to Italy

March 1, 2007 at 12:11 AM

ROME, March 1 (UPI) -- A U.S. State Department official says Washington would refuse an Italian request to extradite CIA operatives in the abduction of terror suspects.

An Italian judge has ordered 25 CIA employees and the former head of Italy's military intelligence service to stand trial in the kidnapping of Abu Omar, a Muslim imam who was kidnapped in Milan four years ago and sent to Egypt for interrogation.

John Bellinger, a legal adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said the United States has not received an extradition request from Italy, and would not comply with such a request, The Financial Times reported.

"If we got an extradition request from Italy, we would not extradite US officials to Italy," Belling said in Brussels."

Bellinger is the first senior U.S. official to say publicly that CIA agents would not be extradited to Italy to stand trial, the newspaper said.

Italian Transport Minister Antonio Di Pietro, who backs the Milan magistrates and the Italian Magistrates Union, has accused his colleagues of protecting intelligence agents who acted "like a Sardinian kidnap gang." He wants the government to request extradition of the U.S. CIA agents.

Justice Minister Clemente Mastella says that Di Pietro should mind his own business.

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