Egyptian imam seeks $10 million in CIA renditions trial

Wed Oct 7, 2009 12:29pm EDT

MILAN, Italy (Reuters) – A terrorist suspect at the center of an Italian trial over secret CIA rendition flights is seeking $10 million in compensation, saying he was tortured during interrogation in Egypt, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

The wife of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, known as Abu Omar, has separately demanded a further 5 million euros in damages from the American and Italian defendants in the case who are accused of illegally snatching the Muslim cleric off Milan’s streets in 2003.

Twenty-six Americans, all but one believed to be CIA agents, face between 10 and 13 years in jail for kidnapping, but are being tried in absentia. The United States has ruled out extraditing them, so any conviction would be purely symbolic.

Public prosecutors in Milan have also charged four Italians, including the former head and deputy head of Italy’s Sismi secret service, for their part in the abduction.

“The kidnapping was an action against the security of the state, not in favor of it, which destroyed some of the life of Abu Omar, his wife and their family,” said Luca Bauccio, lawyer for the cleric’s wife, Nablia Ghali.

Egyptian-born cleric Nasr, who was released from Egyptian custody in 2007, faces an arrest warrant in Italy on suspicion of terrorist activity. He remains in Egypt.

The trial is the most high profile case in Europe to challenge the extra-judicial transfers, known as renditions, used by the government of former President George W. Bush in its fight against terrorism.

The longest jail term, 13 years, was requested for the ex-head of the CIA station in Rome, identified as Jeff Castelli.

Under the Bush administration, the United States has said it used rendition to seize terrorism suspects around the world and deliver them for interrogation in third countries. It has not acknowledged any rendition in Italy.

[original]

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