The Abu Omar Case (or Imam rapito affair – "kidnapped Imam affair") refers to the alleged abduction and transfer to Egypt of the Imam of Milan Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar. The case was picked by the international media as one of the better-documented cases of extraordinary rendition carried out by the United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the context of the "global war on terrorism" declared by the Bush administration.
Abu Omar was abducted on February 17, 2003, in Milan by the CIA. and transported to the Aviano Air Base, from which he was transferred to Egypt, where he was secluded, interrogated and allegedly tortured and abused. The CIA operation interrupted a surveillance programme that was being carried out by Italian authorities into Nasr's alleged participation in Islamist organizations. Hassan Nasr was released by an Egyptian court in February 2007, which ruled that his detention was "unfounded". He has been indicted for international terrorism offenses in Italy since 2005.
The Italian government originally denied having played any role in the abduction. However Italian prosecutors Armando Spataro and Ferdinand Enrico Pomarici indicted 26 CIA agents, including the Rome station chief and head of CIA in Italy until 2003, Jeffrey W. Castelli, and Milan station chief Robert Seldon Lady, as well as SISMI head General Nicolò Pollari, his second Marco Mancini and station chiefs Raffaele Ditroia, Luciano Di Gregori and Giuseppe Ciorra. Referring to the Italian military intelligence agency, the Italian press has talked of a "CIA-SISMI concerted operation." The prosecutors sent extradition requests for the indicted American citizens to the Italian Ministry of Justice, then headed by Roberto Castelli, for onward transmission to Washington. However Castelli refused to forward the demand for extradition.
The affair also created controversy within the CIA when the story came to light in 2005. Porter J. Goss the director of the CIA at the time, ordered the agency's independent inspector general to begin a review of the operation. Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., then head of the National Clandestine Service (NCS), stopped the inspector general's review, stating that the NCS would investigate itself. In June 2009 Robert Seldon Lady, Milan CIA station chief at the time, said "I'm not guilty. I'm only responsible for carrying out orders that I received from my superiors." CIA officer Sabrina DeSousa, sentenced to five years in prison, said that the United States "broke the law ... and we are paying for the mistakes right now".
Read more about Abu Omar Case: Investigation of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, Abduction and Rendition To Egypt, Investigation and Warrants For CIA Operatives, One of The "concerted CIA-SISMI Operations", The Trial, Political Context, CIA Station Chief's Admission
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