Italian prosecutors are aggressively pursuing the “extraordinary rendition” criminals in the CIA.
Italian authorities have ordered the arrests of a former U.S. Embassy official here and two other people in connection with a “rendition” case in which CIA operatives allegedly kidnapped a radical Muslim cleric from Milan and flew him to Egypt, where, he has said, he was tortured.
The new arrest warrants bring to 22 the number of people sought on suspicion of planning and executing the plot and apparently are the first direct connection to the U.S. Embassy in Rome. U.S. intelligence officials in Washington, though refusing to acknowledge the operation publicly, have sought to portray it as conducted by the spy-world equivalent of contractors.
Italian investigators said their review of telephone traffic among those who abducted the imam in Milan 2 1/2 years ago led them to the former U.S. Embassy employee. She is believed to have made or received a number of calls aimed at coordinating and organizing the abduction and to have participated directly in the operation, according to papers filed in court by prosecutors.
Investigators found evidence that she checked into a Milan hotel 24 days before the kidnapping and traveled with the other suspects to the U.S.-run Aviano Air Base in northern Italy, where Abu Omar was bundled onto a private jet bound for Egypt via the U.S. military’s Ramstein Air Base in Germany, Italian prosecutors said.
The prosecutors maintain that the participation of the woman is especially egregious given the diplomatic position she held at the embassy. According to public records, she served in the U.S. Embassy in Rome until this year, when she was transferred to Latin America.
I doubt Bob Novakis reading this, but if he is…
The Times is not naming the former Rome embassy official. The paper generally avoids naming undercover intelligence operatives unless their names are put into public record.