The Italian Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the convictions of 23 Americans who were found guilty in absentia three years ago in connection with the 2003 kidnapping of a terror suspect in Milan.
The Americans, many of whom were thought to have worked for the United States' CIA, never appeared for trial and are not in Italian custody. The Italian government hasn't asked for their extradition.
The case centered on the "extraordinary rendition" of a Muslim cleric, Osama Mustafa Hassan Nasr, or Abu Omar. He was seized on the streets of Milan, Italy, in 2003, transferred to Egypt and tortured, he said. He was suspected of recruiting men to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan and was under heavy surveillance by Italy's intelligence agency.
Prosecutors said he was nabbed by a CIA team working with Italian intelligence 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 sent suspects to countries that practice torture. Washington acknowledges making secret "rendition" transfers of terrorism suspects between countries but denies using torture or handing suspects over to countries that do.
A total of 22 Americans were each sentenced to five years in prison for their role in his abduction. Another – Robert Seldon Lady, whom prosecutors said was the CIA station chief in Milan – was sentenced to eight years in jail.
Former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer told CNN in the past that the Italian military secret service had approved the operation involving Hassan, and CIA sources who refused to be named told CNN in 2005 that the agency had briefed and sought approval from its Italian counterpart for such an abduction.
The Italian government at the time – which was led by Silvio Berlusconi – vigorously denied having authorized Hassan's kidnapping, which it called illegal.FULL STORY