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Italy high court upholds sentences of 23 former CIA agents in rendition case

The Italian Court of Cassation [official website, in Italian] on Wednesday upheld the convictions of 23 former CIA officers for the 2003 kidnapping and rendition [JURIST news archive] of Egyptian terror suspect Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr. 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 after they were all tried in absentia. In 2010 an Italian intermediate appellate court increased [JURIST report] Lady's sentence to nine years while increasing the sentences of the other 22 defendants to seven years. The Court of Cassation upheld [BBC report] the sentences of nine and seven years.

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 [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. In 2009 President Barack Obama announced the US would continue its practice [JURIST report] of sending terror detainees to third countries for interrogation with increased oversight by the State Department to prevent torture.

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