Moral Low Ground

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Italian Court Increases Sentences, Fines for 23 CIA Agents in Rendition Case

Abu Omar (Wikipedia)

Abu Omar (Wikipedia)

An Italian court has increased the prison sentences of 23 American CIA agents convicted last year in absentia of kidnapping a radical Egyptian cleric and sending him to Egypt to be tortured. It is the most prominent court case against the dubious American practice of extraordinary rendition to date.

The 23 agents, whose sentences were originally five to eight years, must now serve seven to nine years. Additionally, they must pay 1.5 million euros (2 million dollars) in damages to radical Islamic cleric Osama Mustafa Hassan (better known as Abu Omar) and his wife.

The United States has refused to extradite the criminals, and as long as they stay out of Europe they should remain free. The defendants include former Milan CIA station chief Robert Lady. Nicolo Pollari, head of Italian military intelligence and his assistant were acquitted on the grounds that evidence against them was inadmissible under state secrets rules.

Moral Low Ground welcomes the Italian decision but laments the lack of accountability for the Italians involved. Members of Italy’s military intelligence agency, SISMI, played a prominent role in the rendition and ought to be brought to justice as well. Hiding behind a veil of “state secrets” only guarantees that justice will not be completely served and the Americans can rightfully claim that they’ve been unfairly treated.

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