[News] Italians Issue Six New CIA Warrants
News at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jul 26 14:24:12 EDT 2005
Italians Issue Six New CIA Warrants
By Tracy Wilkinson
The Los Angeles Times
Tuesday 26 July 2005
Appellate court agrees with prosecutors, who now seek 19 operatives in
Bologna, Italy - An Italian appeals court ordered the arrest of six
additional CIA operatives Monday in connection with the disappearance of a
radical Muslim cleric who was snatched from the streets of Milan two years
ago, a prosecutor said.
The arrest warrants bring to 19 the number of operatives being sought
by Italian justice officials. None is believed to be in Italy currently,
and no one has been arrested in connection with the case.
"We now have 19 fugitives," the lead prosecutor in the case, Armando
Spataro, told the Los Angeles Times.
At issue is the disappearance of Hassan Osama Nasr, also known as Abu
Omar, an Egyptian who Italian officials say was kidnapped by CIA agents and
bundled off to an Egyptian jail, where he was tortured. The operation was
believed to be an "extraordinary rendition," a controversial U.S. practice
of clandestinely seizing terrorism suspects in one country and transporting
them to another, where they are interrogated and sometimes brutalized.
Italian prosecutors' efforts to arrest and try the CIA operatives have
proved enormously embarrassing to the agency and to Italian government
officials, straining traditionally close U.S. Italian ties. It is rare for
one of Washington's allies to attempt to prosecute U.S. spies.
The six for whom warrants were issued Monday are believed to have
followed Abu Omar, who had been living in Milan since 2001, determined his
habits and patterns, and cased out routes for transporting him to the
U.S.-Italian Aviano Air Base in northern Italy, from which he was flown to
The operation appeared sloppy: According to Italian court documents
and interviews with Italian law enforcement officials, the operatives
behaved recklessly, leaving a clear trail. They spoke frequently and openly
on cellphones and rented rooms at luxury hotels using passports and credit
Although most of the names used were probably aliases, the identity of
the former CIA station chief in Milan was exposed and has been printed
widely in the Italian press and some American press. He no longer works for
the agency and has vanished from a retirement home he purchased near Turin.
Spataro, the Italian prosecutor, sought arrest warrants this year for
all 19 operatives allegedly involved in the operation. A judge last month
granted them for the 13 who allegedly participated directly in seizing the
cleric as he walked to a mosque. The judge refused to order the arrest of
the six who allegedly helped in reconnaissance.
Spataro appealed, and a three-judge court Monday granted his request.
"The court wrote that it is not possible to distinguish between the
two groups, the first that only studied the area of the operation and [Abu
Omar's] way of life, and the second group that were the actual executors,"
Spataro said from Milan. "They were all involved in the same project of
kidnapping. They were all responsible."
The appeal, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, alleges that
all of the operatives participated in the conspiracy because they shared
hotels, and their telephone traffic indicated they were frequently together
and in regular contact. A female agent from the group of six shared a room
at the five-star Westin Hotel in Milan with a male agent from the group of
13, the court documents allege.
The CIA declined to comment on the case Monday.
At the time of his disappearance, Abu Omar was under investigation by
Italian counter-terrorism police who suspected he was helping recruit
suicide bombers. He was frequenting a mosque in Milan that U.S. authorities
had long branded a center of Islamic extremism.
The Italians insist they were preparing to arrest Abu Omar when he
disappeared and say the U.S. ruined their case.
The Freedom Archives
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