Extraordinary Verdict Against CIA in Rendition Case

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*UPDATE: New British report released*

c/o Pierre [Tristam]'s Middle East Issues Blog:
cia rendition plane
Air Rendition: One of the planes operated by the CIA's front, North Carolina-based Aero Contractors, believed to have been used in CIA renditions of suspected terrorists to third countries such as Egypt. The European Union has documented more than 1,200 illegal CIA flights in European air space. (Photo by Pavel Horejsi/Getty Images)

Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, is an Egyptian cleric and member of al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, the Egyptian group chiefly responsible for the assassination of Anwar el Sadat in 1981. Nasr was living in Italy to avoid arrest following the designation of al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya as a terrorist organization by the Egyptian and American governments.

On Feb. 17, 2003, while he was walking to his mosque in Milan, Nasr was kidnapped by several CIA agents working in concert with Italian agents. Nasr was subjected to "extraordinary rendition," the illegal practice, utilized by the CIA since the Clinton administration, of kidnapping individuals and rendering them to other countries for imprisonment, and, usually, interrogation and torture by local officials not covered by American prohibitions against torture or illegal imprisonment. Nasr was flown from Italy to Germany through Swiss air space on what was one of at least 1,245 secret C.I.A. flights, some of them involving rendition, during the Bush administration, according to a European Union report...

see also US 'disappointed' at convictions 

and Convicted CIA Spy Says "We Broke the Law", video here

Nasr was then being rendered from an American military base in Germany to Egypt. Egyptian prisons notorious for their brutality. According to Nasr, he was tortured repeatedly. The Chicago Tribune reproduced a letter he wrote describing his kidnapping and experience at his jailers' hands.

Soon after arriving in Egypt, Nasr wrote,

they presented me with some food and about an hour later they opened the cell door and blindfolded me and tied my hands and took me to an office and the interrogations and torture began, they removed all my clothes and removed the binds on my hands and replaced them with other binds that were like three binds; 2 binds on my hands behind my back and one bind which they tied around one foot so that I was standing on one foot and I would fall to the floor naked as they laughed and lifted me back up and again and again and the electric shocks began as well as the hand beatings and the threats to rape me if I refused to talk and if I held back anything I knew and then they gave some paper and a pen and asked me to write everything about my life and to the day that I departed Egypt and what I did outside Egypt. The interrogations were repeated a number of times.
On Feb. 16, 2007, an Italian judge indicted 26 Americans on kidnapping charges, including an Air Force colonel, along with Nicolo Pollari, who until 2007 was Italy's chief of military intelligence. Three of the Americans were later granted diplomatic immunity.

Today--Nov. 4--the CIA station chief in Milan at the time, Robert Seldon, was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison while 22 other Americans were given five-year terms. Not one American is going to serve his sentence. They were all tried in absentia. But the convictions carry considerable symbolic force in their repudiation of the Bush administration's unilateral subordination of international law to a form of big-power vigilantism. The convictions are also, implicitly, a repudiation of the Obama administration on that score. Obama has embraced extraordinary rendition as a potential tool of anti-terrorism.

As for Nasr, he was released in 2004, imprisoned again, and released again in early 2007, the charges against him that he belonged to a terrorist organization having been dropped. He's living in Alexandria. "The ruling," The Times reports, "may bear on suits filed by Mr. Nasr and his wife. Mr. Nasr, who is now living in Alexandria, Egypt, is seeking $14 million in damages from the defendants. His wife, Ghali Nabila, is seeking $7.4 million against the Italian authorities 'for their refusal to cooperate' with justice, according to her lawyer, Luca Bauccio. In August the couple also filed a suit with the European Court of Human Rights."

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This page contains a single entry published on November 4, 2009 12:33 PM.

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