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Italy/USA: Rendition convictions against 23 Americans upheld by High Court

last updated Sep 20, 2012

The supreme court of Italy has upheld the convictions of 23 American citizens for abducting a terrorism suspect in 2003 and bringing him to a prison in Egypt where he was allegedly tortured. The verdict is the first ruling that has successfully challenged the United States’ extraordinary rendition program.

Surveillance photo of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr in January 2003
Surveillance photo of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr in January 2003; Source: Wikimedia Commons

Of the 23 CIA employees, 22 received a sentence of seven years while CIA station chief Robert Seldon Lady was sentenced to nine years of prison; all in absentia. The judgment implies that the convicts may be arrested if they travel to Europe. At the moment it is unclear whether Italy will ask for extradition.


In 2003, the Muslim cleric Osama Mustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was kidnapped in bright daylight for his alleged role in recruiting men to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was brought to an Egyptian prison where he spent four years. Abu Omar claimed that he had been tortured.


The court also ordered each convict to pay €1m in damages to Abu Omar and €500,000 to his wife.


Guardian: Italy upholds rendition convictions for 23 Americans


NY Times: High Court in Italy Backs Convictions for Rendition


CNN: Italian Supreme Court upholds guilty verdict against 23 Americans


Italy country profile


United States country profile

Atlas of Torture Project

Final Comparative Report published

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