A former CIA base chief in Italy who was convicted in the 2003 abduction of an Egyptian terror suspect from a street in Milan has been detained in Panama, the Italian justice ministry said on Thursday.
Robert Seldon Lady, the former Milan CIA station chief, was sentenced by an Italian appeals court in Milan earlier this year in the extraordinary rendition case to nine years in prison after being tried in absentia in Italy for the kidnapping of the Muslim cleric.
The trials of Lady, who has since retired from the CIA, and two other Americans in the case brought the first convictions anywhere in the world against agents involved in the agency’s extraordinary rendition programme, a practice alleged to have led to torture.
The ministry said it didn’t immediately have details on when or where in the Central American country Lady was detained. Asked if Italy was seeking Lady’s extradition, the ministry said Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri was away on a visit in Lithuania and couldn’t immediately say if such a request had been initiated.
The terror suspect, Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was abducted in February 2003, transferred to US military bases, first in Italy, then in Germany, before being flown to Egypt.
The cleric alleged he was tortured in Egypt. He was later released.
The previous Italian government had said that extradition could only be sought for Lady, since it can only be requested for people who have been sentenced to more than four years in prison. A 2006 amnesty in Italy shaves three years off all sentences meted out by Italian courts, meaning if Lady is brought back to Italy, he would face six years in prison.