News / USA

Judge: Italian Agents Likely Knew of CIA Abduction

State secrecy laws said to have hidden Italy's role in kidnapping of Muslim cleric Hasan Nasr; 23 American agents and two Italians found guilty in 2003 case

An Italian judge says it is likely that Italy's military intelligence agency knew about the kidnapping of Muslim cleric Hasan Nasr from Milan seven years ago, despite Italian government denials of involvement in the CIA abduction.

However, Milan Judge Oscar Magi, in a 217-page document released Monday, said Italian state secrecy laws hid Italy's role in the kidnapping.  He said those laws made it impossible to render a legal decision about Italian complicity in the abduction.

Judge Magi found 23 American agents and two Italians guilty in November in the 2003 kidnapping of Nasr, who was later shipped to Egypt where he says he was repeatedly tortured.  Nasr was released four years later without charges.

All the American defendants were tried and sentenced to prison in absentia, after the Italian government refused to seek their extradition on national security grounds.  The CIA has not commented on the case.

The trial was the first in any country to scrutinize the CIA's controversial rendition program, which has been condemned by several European governments.

While in office, former U.S. President George W. Bush repeatedly insisted U.S. operatives did not transfer prisoners to countries known to practice torture.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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