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Switzerland probing unlawful US use of Swiss airspace for renditions

[JURIST] Switzerland is launching a criminal probe into the alleged unlawful use of Swiss airspace by US agents in anti-terrorist operations after authorization Wednesday by the Swiss Federal Council [official website], which said in a statement that there was evidence that "basic norms of international law were violated." The investigation will center around the abduction of Muslim cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr [Wikipedia profile], also known as Abu Omar, who says he was kidnapped [JURIST news archive; WP timeline] by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] in 2003 during his extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive] from Milan. He claims he was then flown to Germany via Swiss airspace en route to Egypt, where he then was tortured. Wednesday's announcement comes three days after Omar's release from detention by Egyptian officials [JURIST report]. AP has more. 24 Heures has local coverage [report, in French].

The decision, a blow to US-Swiss anti-terrorist cooperation, is the latest in a series of European complaints about US anti-terror operations overseas. Nasr has been at the heart of Italian judicial proceedings against 26 US CIA agents and five officials from the Italian Military Intelligence and Security Service (SISMI) [official website] who have already been implicated in his alleged kidnapping. Hearings [JURIST report] to decide the legal fate of some 30 operatives began last month. In October, Italian prosecutors said they would again press for the extradition of the 26 American agents [JURIST report] and, if turned down, will try the US agents in absentia [JURIST report].

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