An Egyptian cleric abducted in 2003 in Milan, Italy, under the CIA’s program of extraordinary rendition was convicted of terrorism charges Friday in Italy and sentenced in absentia to six years in prison.
The cleric, Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, now lives in Egypt and is unlikely to return to Italy to serve the sentence.
Italy had been in the process of investigating Nasr, who they suspected of terrorism, when he was snatched and transferred to Egypt via Germany. Nasr said he was tortured in Egypt.
The Associated Press reports that Italian prosecutors “reactivated the dormant case against Nasr in May to complete the proceedings interrupted by the kidnapping, which sparked indignation among Italian investigators. ” It adds:
“Nasr was found guilty of criminal association with the goal of terrorism and with aiding illegal emigration with the goal of terrorism, for allegedly helping organize false documents to help bring recruits to Islamic terror camps.
“Italian prosecutors said Egypt did not respond to requests to question him or bring him to Italy for trial.”
Nasr’s lawyer, Carmelo Scambia, denied that his client is associated with terrorism.
“It’s a political trial, if you will, an ideological trial against someone who professes a political faith,” Scambia said, according to the AP.
Nasr is no longer in jail and lives in Alexandria, Egypt, but his lawyers say he’s unable to leave the country or travel.
The BBC reports:
“Abu Omar’s rendition was only uncovered when Italian prosecutors investigating him intercepted a telephone call that he made from Egypt to his wife in Italy after 14 months in captivity. During their conversation, he recounted his abduction and mistreatment by Egyptian security services.
“He was subsequently rearrested in Egypt and held under an emergency detention law until 2007, when a court ordered his release.”
Nasr’s abduction in 2003 caused consternation across Italy. Twenty-six Americans, mostly CIA agents, were convicted in absentia of kidnapping. They were handed sentences ranging from five years to nine years. None served prison time.