An Italian appeals court on Wednesday upheld the convictions of 23 former CIA agents for the 2003 kidnapping and rendition [JURIST news archive] of Egyptian terror suspect Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, increasing their sentences. Former Milan CIA station chief Robert Seldon Lady was originally sentenced [JURIST report] to eight years in prison, while 22 other Americans were sentenced to five years. Lady's sentence was increased [AFP report] Wednesday to nine years, while the other sentences were increased to seven years. The US has refused to extradite the defendants, who were sentenced in absentia. Defense lawyers plan to appeal. Amnesty International [advocacy website] welcomed the ruling [press release] but called on the Italian government to hold Italian officials accountable as well.
Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was seized on the streets of Milan in 2003 by CIA agents with the help of Italian operatives, then allegedly transferred to Egypt and tortured by Egypt's State Security Intelligence before being released [JURIST reports] in February 2007. In September 2009, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed a motion to dismiss [JURIST report] a lawsuit brought by former State Department official Sabrina De Sousa seeking diplomatic immunity against the Italian charges. De Sousa was one of the Americans whose sentence was increased to seven years. The CIA's rendition program has been the source of much controversy and litigation. Last year, President Barack Obama announced [JURIST report] the US would continue its practice of sending terror detainees to third countries for interrogation with increased oversight by the State Department to prevent torture.