HRW calls for sweeping CIA investigations

Sept. 21, 2012 at 10:00 AM
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MILAN, Italy, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Human Rights Watch warned the U.S. government that foreign courts may follow Italy's example and examine the CIA's involvement in a rendition program.

The Italian high court this week upheld the conviction of 22 employees of the CIA, CIA station chief Robert Lady and U.S. Air Force Col. Joseph Romano in the rendition of Egyptian cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, known also as Abu Omar.

Omar told Human Rights Watch in 2007 he was subjected to electric shocks while under interrogation in Egypt.

"I was brutally tortured and could hear the screams of others who were tortured, too," he said.

Omar was taken into custody in 2003 and eventually transferred from a U.S. air base in Italy to Egypt. He's since been freed.

Andrea Prasow, a counter-terrorism lawyer at Human Rights Watch, said the U.S. government should see the Italian court ruling as sign that Washington isn't immune from justice.

"Since the U.S. Justice Department appears entirely unwilling to investigate and prosecute these very serious crimes, other countries should move forward with their own cases against US officials," she said in a statement from Milan.

Cesare Bulgheroni, the lawyer representing Romano, was quoted by The New York Times as saying there's a "plan to go forward" with a challenge at the European Court of Human Rights.

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