WASHINGTON, May 15 (UPI) -- A former U.S. government employee accused by Italy of participating in a CIA kidnapping, has sued the U.S. State Department, demanding diplomatic immunity.
Italian officials claim Sabrina De Sousa was one of 26 U.S agents who grabbed Egyptian-born Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, a cleric known as Abu Omar, in February 2003 and flew him to Egypt, where he says he was imprisoned and tortured, The Washington Post said Friday. Nasr has since been released.
De Sousa, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in India, said she was ordered not to travel abroad because she could be arrested, preventing her from visiting her mother in India and family members in Europe. De Sousa left federal employment in February.
Italian officials allege the Nasr's disappearance was part of a CIA rendition program in which the agency abducted suspected terrorists and took them to third countries for interrogation. De Sousa, accused of being a principal in the incident, worked as a consular official in Milan at the time.
"Even if the allegations were true, though, her actions clearly fell within the scope of her official duties and thereby entitle her to diplomatic-consular immunity," the lawsuit said.
De Sousa told the Post she was forced to sue after asking government officials repeatedly why diplomatic immunity wasn't invoked and didn't get a satisfactory response.
"This is a political thing that needs to go away once and for all," she said of the prosecution.
De Sousa and the other 25 U.S. officials arrested in the alleged kidnapping were indicted in Italy in 2007. A hearing is set for this month.