Ex-CIA official held in Panama on Italy abduction charge

July 18, 2013 at 3:01 PM
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ROME, July 18 (UPI) -- The former CIA station chief in Milan has been detained in Panama for the kidnapping of an Islamic cleric in Italy in 2003, Italian officials said.

Italian Justice Minister Annamaria Cancellieri signed a request for the former station chief, Robert Lady, to be detained provisionally in Panama, Gazzetta del Sud reported. Italy now has two months to request his extradition.

Lady had been convicted of the abduction of cleric Hassan Mustafa Omar Nasr on a Milan street with the help of Italian agents. Nasr was suspected of recruiting jihadist fighters, and sent to Egypt as part of the U.S. "rendition" program.

Nasr was imprisoned in Egypt for four years and claimed he had been tortured.

The Gazzetta said Nasr was taken to the NATO base in Ramstein, Germany, on his way to Cairo.

An Italian court found 22 CIA operatives guilty in absentia in the abduction, and Lady was sentenced to nine years in an Italian prison. Italy's top appeals court upheld the conviction.

The CIA has refused to comment on the case, but Lady, from an undisclosed location, told an Italian newspaper in 2009 he was only following orders.

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