Skip to main content

American wanted by Italy in rendition case released in Panama

By Hada Messia, CNN
July 19, 2013 -- Updated 1800 GMT (0200 HKT)
[File photo] Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, in Cairo on 11 April 2007.
[File photo] Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, in Cairo on 11 April 2007.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An ex-CIA base chief was arrested in Panama on an Italian arrest warrant
  • He was convicted in absentia for his role in a 2003 rendition case
  • The State Department says Robert Seldon Lady is now headed to the United States

Washington (CNN) -- A former CIA base chief wanted by Italy and detained in Panama has been released, a State Department spokeswoman said Friday.

Robert Seldon Lady, who had been convicted by an Italian court for his role in a 2003 rendition case, was flying back to the United States.

"It's my understanding that he is in fact either en route or back in the United States. Beyond that I have no further details," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.

In a 2009 trial, an Italian court convicted Lady and 22 others of abducting Osama Mustafa Hassan Nasr, or Abu Omar, from the streets of Milan in 2003. Italian prosecutors said Abu Omar was nabbed by a CIA team working with Italian officials.

The trial was the first to deal with a practice that human rights groups call "extraordinary rendition." They say the United States has often transferred terrorism suspects to countries that practice torture.

Abu Omar, who was suspected of recruiting men to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan and was under heavy surveillance by Italy's intelligence agency, was transferred to Egypt and tortured, Italian prosecutors said.

A former senior CIA official said Lady is no longer with the CIA.

In the 2009 trial, the Italian court sentenced Lady to eight years in prison, prosecutor Armando Spataro said. The other Americans were sentenced to five years.

Each of the 23 Americans was ordered to pay 1 million euros (about $1.3 million) to Abu Omar, plus 500,000 euros to his wife.

But at the time, it seemed unlikely that the convictions would have much effect on the Americans, as none appeared at the trial and the Italian government did not ask for their extradition.

Washington has acknowledged making secret "rendition" transfers of terrorism suspects between countries but denies using torture or handing suspects over to countries that do.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0254 GMT (1054 HKT)
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0024 GMT (0824 HKT)
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 0822 GMT (1622 HKT)
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 2100 GMT (0500 HKT)
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
December 21, 2014 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1701 GMT (0101 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT