Italy convicts ex-CIA chief of kidnapping

Milan’s appeals court has sentenced a former Central Intelligence Agency chief to seven years in prison for kidnapping an Egyptian Muslim cleric.

Jeff Castelli was found guilty along with two other agents, who were each given six years for abducting Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, as part of the CIA’s ‘extraordinary rendition’ program in 2003.

The trio had been acquitted at their first trial in 2009 due to diplomatic immunity but prosecutors had appealed against the verdict.

Abu Omar, who was kidnapped in a joint operation by the CIA and the Italian military intelligence agency SISMI, enjoyed political asylum in Italy at the time.

He was allegedly taken to a US air base in northeast Italy and then transferred to a US base in Germany and subsequently to Cairo.

The Muslim Cleric, who was released in 2007, claims he was tortured in prison by his kidnappers.

Last year, Italy’s Court of Cassation upheld the convictions of 23 CIA agents over the same incident and ordered new appeals trials for five Italian intelligence agents, including Italy’s top two former military intelligence officers, Nicola Pollari and his ex-deputy Marco Mancini.

The Italian Supreme Court ordered the 23 CIA agents to pay one million euros in damages to Abu Omar and 500,000 euros to his wife.

The ‘extraordinary rendition’ program was launched by former US president George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks as an operation for the global apprehension and incarceration of suspected terrorists.