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Italy’s CIA crackdown
Why would U.S. ally Italy convict 22 CIA operatives for nabbing a Muslim cleric off the streets of Milan?
 

An Italian court sentenced 22 CIA operatives, including former Milan station chief Robert Lady, and one U.S. Air Force colonel in absentia for the 2003 abduction of Muslim cleric Hassan Moustafa Osama Nasr (or Abu Omar) in Milan. Nasr was flown to Egypt, where he claims he was tortured. Why would Italy, a U.S. ally, threaten to jail CIA agents for nabbing a suspected terrorist?

Italy is laying down the law: Why did the CIA use “extraordinary rendition” in an allied nation like Italy? asks Annie Lowrey in Foreign Policy. The “somewhat queasy” answer is: because it could. “At the time, the CIA operated in extralegal channels with impunity.” But times have changed, and the Italian court is “ensuring the CIA knows there’s no impunity now.”
“Italian court convicts CIA agents in absentia”

No impunity for Americans—but for Italians? The Italian prosecutor certainly spun this as a victory for “Italian laws,” says Kevin Drum in Mother Jones. But then why did three high-ranking Italians implicated in the case get off scot-free? Count me unimpressed. “Convicting a bunch of foreigners is easy. It’s holding your own people to account that’s hard.”
“Italy’s rendition trial”

The CIA gets off easy, too: The verdict is also “where the damage ends for the CIA,” says Jeff Stein in Foreign Policy. None of the agents are likely to see the inside of an Italian jail cell—although, with European arrest warrants out for their arrest, they “can forget about spending the summer in Provence.” But the last laugh may go to Nasr: for compensation, he could be awarded the “title to an Italian country house that Lady bought for retirement.”
“Rendered guilty”

 

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