An Italian judge has sentenced 23 former U.S. intelligence operatives to up to eight years in prison for the 2003 kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric from Milan.
Citing diplomatic immunity, Milan Judge Oscar Magi on Wednesday acquitted three other former CIA agents and the former head of Italy’s military intelligence service.
All the Americans were tried in absentia and convicted on charges of kidnapping terror suspect Osama Moustafa Nasr, also known as Hassan Nasr. Prosecutors said Nasr was eventually shipped to Egypt, where he was repeatedly tortured in a jail cell near Cairo. He was released four years later without charges.
The Italian government, which did not seek the extradition of the Americans, denied any role in what became known as the U.S. “extraordinary renditions” program.
Italian authorities at one point sought to have the case dismissed over national security concerns. The CIA has declined to comment.
The trial was the first in any country to scrutinize the CIA’s controversial renditions program, which has been condemned by a host of European governments.
While in office, former U.S. President George W. Bush repeatedly insisted U.S. operatives did not transfer prisoners to countries known to practice torture.
‘Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.’