Preacher seized by CIA tells of torture in Egypt

AN EGYPTIAN preacher who was seized by the CIA in daylight on a Milan street has revealed the details of 14 months of torture to which he says he was subjected after his “extraordinary rendition” to Egypt.
Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, described how Egyptian interrogators stripped him, shackled his arms and legs in a crucifixion position and then beat him and gave him electric shocks. He claimed they had twice attempted to rape him.
Now living in Alexandria, Nasr, 44, walks with a limp, is deaf in one ear and bears scars.
Last Friday the trial opened of 26 American defendants accused of kidnapping him on February 17, 2003, in an operation prosecutors say was coordinated by the CIA and Italian intelligence. None of the US defendants, a number of whom were identified by aliases, attended.
Nasr fled Egypt in 1988 after he was accused of being a member of Gama’a Islamiya, an Egyptian militant group that later carried out terrorist attacks. He denied the allegation and was granted political asylum in Italy. When he disappeared he was walking to midday prayers at a radical mosque where he was a part-time preacher.
He became a “ghost prisoner”, his arrest and detention confirmed to nobody. “I was out of history. My lawyer searched prisons all over Egypt and no one could find a trace of me,” he said. Continue reading Preacher seized by CIA tells of torture in Egypt

Twists and turns of 'rendition' scandal rivet Italy

By Stephen Grey and Elisabetta Povoledo International Herald Tribune, The New York Times
July 9, 2006 (Read the full text).

MILAN The veteran spy made a mistake worthy of an amateur.
On June 1, a senior Italian intelligence official placed a call from a public telephone booth to a fellow spy to discuss an investigation into the alleged kidnapping by the CIA of a radical Egyptian cleric in 2003.
The Italian spies were also under investigation, for complicity in the abduction of the imam, who was seized on a Milan street and sent to his native Egypt to be interrogated and imprisoned.
In a country where police officers and spies tap more than 100,000 phone lines each year, Gustavo Pignero, the former chief of military counterespionage at the Italian intelligence agency, apparently ignored the obvious – that investigators were listening in.

Italy Arrests 2 in Kidnapping of Imam in '03

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Published: July 6, 2006
MILAN, July 5 — Two officials with the Italian intelligence agency were arrested Wednesday in the kidnapping of a radical Egyptian cleric here in 2003. It was the first indication that Italian intelligence agents might have been directly involved in what prosecutors say was an American-led operation to detain and interrogate the imam.
Prosecutors also sought the arrest of three operatives of the Central Intelligence Agency and an employee of the American military airbase at Aviano, Italy. Last year, Italian prosecutors charged 22 other Americans, who were employed by or linked to the C.I.A., with involvement in the abduction of the cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr.
The government said it would “collaborate fully” with the investigation and expressed its “trust in the institutional loyalty” of the secret services. In the past, the government has denied any knowledge of or involvement in the kidnapping.

Thirteen With the C.I.A. Sought by Italy in a Kidnapping

Published: June 25, 2005 (read full text)
MILAN, June 24 – An Italian judge has ordered the arrest of 13 officers and operatives of the Central Intelligence Agency on charges that they seized an Egyptian cleric on a Milan street two years ago and flew him to Egypt for questioning, Italian prosecutors and investigators said Friday.
The judge, Chiara Nobili of Milan, signed the arrest warrants on Wednesday for 13 C.I.A. operatives who are suspected of seizing an imam named Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, as he walked to his mosque here for noon prayers on Feb. 17, 2003.
It is unclear what prompted the issuance of the warrants, but Judge Guido Salvini said in May that it was “certain” that Mr. Nasr had been seized by “people belonging to foreign intelligence networks interested in interrogating him and neutralizing him, to then hand him over to Egyptian authorities.” Continue reading Thirteen With the C.I.A. Sought by Italy in a Kidnapping