Robert Seldon Lady, the former CIA agent convicted of extraordinary rendition in Italy, is on his way back to the U.S. after a brief detaining in Panama, reports Greg Miller and Karen Deyoung of the Washington Post.
The Panama government detained Lady at the request of the Italian government, and for a second, it looked like Lady was in a heap of trouble.
Lady’s detention in Panama raised the prospect for the first time that one of the defendants in the Milan case could be extradited to Italy, and it renewed criticism of the U.S. government’s handling of the matter.
Italy convicted 23 Americans in a kidnapping case concerning the rendition of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, who the CIA suspected of funelling funds to Al Qaeda.
Yet, it appears Lady may not have wanted to render Nasr at first.
Max Fisher of the Washington Post writes:
Lady … came under pressure to seize Abu Omar and send him abroad for interrogation. He reportedly resisted at first, urging the CIA to let their joint investigation with the Italians continue, and warning that nabbing a well-known religious figure on a Western European city street could be provocative. But he was overruled and, ultimately, did as he was told, ordering the rendition to go ahead.
Omar was rendered to Egypt, where he was interrogated and later released. A tapped phone call to his wife later prompted Italian authorities to look into what sounded like a case of rendition.
They brought charges and convicted the Americans in absentia, since they had all fled the country prior to the charges.
Miller and Deyoung note that the movement of Lady back to the States is likely to complicate things further with requests to extradite NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
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