Twenty-three suspects, including the former CIA station chief in Milan Robert Lady, were convicted of kidnapping by an Italian court for the CIA’s “extraordinary renditions.” It is the first such trial on the controversial practice.
Recently I discussed on Rachel Maddow (here) how the U.S. has ignored international law in the bombing of Pakistan sites and seems to argue that it is not unlawful because it is the United States who is carrying out the attacks. The same basic argument is being used on these extraordinary renditions where we engage in criminal acts in foreign countries and insist that, while we would prosecute other nations for such actions on our soil, we are in a materially different position. This court clearly disagrees.
Lady was given an eight-year jail sentence for his part in the seizure of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, known as Abu Omar, who claimed that he was subsequently tortured in Egypt. Lady’s superior, Jeff Castelli, the then head of the CIA in Italy, and two other Americans were acquitted on the grounds that they enjoyed diplomatic immunity.
Another 21 alleged CIA operatives and a US air force officer were each sentenced to five years in jail. All were tried in absentia and are now to be treated as fugitives under Italian law. This will likely lead to a demand of extradition with the U.S. refusing to comply — a position that will undermine our own attempts to get extradition of others from foreign countries. We will continue our position — as on torture (here) — that we only apply international legal principles to others and not ourselves.
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