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Egypt cleric at center of Italy CIA kidnapping case freed from prison

[JURIST] Egyptian officials on Sunday released from detention Muslim cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr [Wikipedia profile], the man at the heart of Italian judicial proceedings against US and Italian intelligence agents implicated in his alleged 2003 kidnapping [JURIST news archive; WP timeline] and extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive] from Milan. Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, claims he was tortured after being grabbed off a street in Milan and ultimately sent to Egypt. Hearings [JURIST report] to decide the legal fate of some 30 operatives have begun after a December request by Italian prosecutors that Judge Caterina Interlandi issue indictments [JURIST report] against 26 US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] agents and five officials from the Italian Military Intelligence and Security Service (SISMI) [official website], including former SISMI chief Nicola Pollari.

In October, Italian prosecutors said they had completed their investigation [JURIST report] into the incident and would once again press for the extradition of the 26 American agents [JURIST report] believed to be involved in the case. If extradition is once again denied, Milan prosecutor Armando Spataro has said he would be forced to try the US agents in absentia [JURIST report]. Last summer, several Italian intelligence agents were arrested [JURIST report], and in November 2006 the Italian cabinet removed Pollari [JURIST report] from his post, despite his denials of involvement [JURIST report] in the incident. US and Italian intelligence agents have pressed for a political resolution [JURIST report] of their case. BBC News has more.

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