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First Indictment on Extraordinary Rendition on the Horizon

Italian Court May Indict CIA and Italian Officials for Extraordinary Rendition

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Updated December 14, 2006

A hearing has been scheduled in Italian court on January 9, to determine whether 26 American CIA and 5 Italian officials should be indicted for their alleged part in the "extraordinary rendition" of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, an Egyptian cleric suspected of terrorism.

Public revelations in the United States about the program first surfaced in November, 2005, although the Arabic press began running stories charging the existence of secret American prisons in Middle Eastern countries two years earlier. The indictment, if it is approved, would be the first for the practice of secretly transporting terrorist suspects from the United States to third countries for interrogation, where safeguards against torture and abusive practices are looser than they are in the United States.

Nasr—also known as Abu Omar—is alleged to have been abducted from Milan, where he is known for his radical sermons, in February, 2003, and taken to Egypt (where torture is standard for domestic terrorism suspects and political detainees). While in prison in Egypt, Nasr wrote an account of his experience, which he had smuggled to Italy, where the Arabic document was published in translation in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera. Prosecutors later confirmed its authenticity.

In it, Nasr describes in explicit detail torture that includes beating, electric shocks and sexual humiliation, as well as the conditions of his detention: "Here, they told me, the flies don't even come. When I asked for the toilet, they told me to go in my cell. There was an incredible stench. I remained there for six and a half months, at Amn El Dawla. The cell was without air, cockroaches and rats crawled over me. When the guard entered, I had to be on my knees or he would jolt me with an electric cattle prod."

The potential case follows a June, 2006 report issued by the European Parliament charging that eleven countries not only were aware of the American program, but may have lent their airports and airspace to the program. The report also suggested Poland may house a secret CIA prison. The other countries charged in the report are: Austria, Cyprus, England, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

For further reading on torture and terrorism, see:

  1. About.com
  2. News & Issues
  3. Terrorism Issues / Homeland Security
  4. Human & Civil Rights
  5. Extraordinary Rendition: First Indictment on Extraordinary Rendition on the Horizon

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