Ex-CIA Milan chief held in Panama over cleric abduction

A former CIA station chief convicted
by an Italian court of kidnapping a
terror suspect has been detained in
Panama, Italian officials say.
Robert Seldon Lady was sentenced to
nine years in jail for his involvement in
the abduction of the man, an Egyptian
cleric, in Milan in 2003.
The cleric, known as Abu Omar, was
allegedly flown to Egypt and tortured.
Lady was convicted in absentia with 22
other Americans for their role in his
"extraordinary rendition".
But the Italian authorities have so far
only sought the international arrest of
the former Milan station chief, Italian
media say.
The CIA said it had no immediate
comment on the arrest, while
Panamanian officials have so far denied
knowledge of the detention.
Panama and Italy do not have an
extradition treaty, so it is unclear if Lady
will be sent to Italy to serve his prison
sentence.
Aliases used
Lady was reportedly arrested near
Panama's border with Costa Rica.
According to Italian media reports, an
international warrant was sought by the
justice minister in Italy's previous
government in December 2012.
A prosecutor on Lady's case said the
Interpol warrant reflected Italy's
determination to have him extradited.
The Milan case was the first involving
extraordinary rendition, the CIA's
practice of transferring suspects to
countries where torture is permitted.
The practice has been condemned by
human rights groups as a violation of
international agreements.
Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, who was
considered a terrorism suspect by the
US, was abducted on a Milan street in
February 2003 and transferred between
US military bases in Italy and Germany
before being brought to Egypt.
Twenty-two CIA agents, including Lady
and an air force pilot, were convicted in
2009 of abducting the cleric. Their
sentences were upheld last year by Italy's
highest appeals court.
Three more Americans, including CIA
Rome station chief Jeffrey Castelli, were
convicted by an appeals court in
February.
None of the 26 convicted has ever
appeared in an Italian court, and only
two have had any contact with their
lawyers. A number of the names of those
convicted are believed to be aliases, the
Associated Press reports.
Lady reportedly rushed back to the US in
2007, when court hearings began in
Milan to decide whether to put the 23
Americans on trial.
He said he had opposed the proposal to
kidnap the imam, but was overruled.
Italy had previously said Lady was the
only one of the 23 Americans that could
be extradited, given the length of his
sentence.