Italians indict 25 American CIA agents for kidnapping

An Italian judge on Friday indicted 26 Americans and five Italians in the first criminal trial over the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program.

The judge set the trial date for June 8. Prosecutors allege that five Italian intelligence officials worked with the Americans — almost all CIA agents — to abduct terror suspect Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr from a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003.

Nasr was allegedly transferred by vehicle to the Aviano Air Force base near Venice and then by air to the Ramstein Air Base in Germany and on to Egypt, where critics say he was tortured.

All but one of the American suspects have been identified as CIA agents, including the former station chiefs in Rome and Milan. The other is a U.S. Air Force officer stationed at the time at Aviano.

Even if a request is made for the Americans’ extradition — a move bound to irritate U.S.-Italian relations — it was unlikely that the CIA agents would be turned over for trial abroad.

The CIA has refused to comment on the case, while the former Italian chief of military intelligence has insisted that Italian intelligence had no role. The only defendant to appear during the preliminary hearing, Nicolo Pollari, told the judge that he was unable to defend himself properly because documents clarifying his position had been excluded from the proceedings because they contain state secrets.

The case has put an uncomfortable spotlight on intelligence operations as prosecutors press the Italian government to seek the extradition of the U.S. agents. The previous government of Silvio Berlusconi refused, and Premier Romano Prodi’s center-left government has yet to make its decision.

All of the U.S. agents have court-appointed lawyers, who have acknowledged having no contact with their clients.

“It’s a defense in the dark,” said Guido Meroni, who represents six Americans accused of helping organize the abduction. Meroni has argued that the evidence connecting his clients to Nasr’s disappearance was circumstantial, based on phone records and their presence in hotels in Italy during the period before the abduction.

Prosecutors say the alleged kidnapping operation was a breach of Italian sovereignty that compromised Italy’s own anti-terrorism efforts.

Nasr was under investigation for terrorism-related activities at the time of his abduction, and Milan prosecutors issued a warrant for his arrest more than two years after he disappeared from Milan, while he was in Egyptian custody.

Nasr, who allegedly was tortured during four years’ imprisonment in Egypt, was released earlier this week from jail. His lawyer in Egypt said in an interview on Italian state TV that he wants to return to Italy, where he had been granted the status of political refugee.

Prosecutors elsewhere in Europe are moving ahead with cases aimed at the CIA program.

This week, the Swiss government approved prosecutors’ plans to investigate the flight that allegedly took Nasr over Swiss air space from Italy to Germany.

And a Munich prosecutor recently issued arrest warrants for 13 people in connection with another alleged CIA-orchestrated kidnapping, this one of a German citizen who says he was abducted in December 2003 at the Serbian-Macedonia border and flown to Afghanistan.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press


  1. Neal Goldstien

    The buck doesn’t stop with the president

    anymore. Now it just flows downhill to the “few rotten apples.”

    Dubya’s personal version of Truman’s wonderful statement ought to be:


  2. Kent Shaw


    “But once they get the almighty state to intervene for them, your choices are not only narrowed, but your taxes pay for the government acting as the corporation’s private cop.”


    This is the definition of fascism.


  3. Paolo

    Hi Jim Z and Kent,

    I haven’t seen “The Corporation,” but I always get nervous when people start talking about natural resources being “shared by all for free.” I don’t have any problem with a group of people getting together, buying some land, developing the natural resources, and asking a fair price for them. This goes whether it’s farming, mining, ranching–whatever.

    I also am a Lew Rockwell fan, by the way.

    Where I do have a problem with corporations is when they decide to cut their competitors off at the knees by offering payola to their buddies in the government. When they were just selling their goods and making a profit, you could choose to buy or not to buy from them. But once they get the almighty state to intervene for them, your choices are not only narrowed, but your taxes pay for the government acting as the corporation’s private cop. Talk about adding insult to injury!

    A corporation is just a bunch of people working together to create something of value and sell it. This is only becomes a problem when they decide it’s easier to pay the government to “protect” them, than to compete with others in the open market.

  4. Kent Shaw


    JimZ, you have put it with more eloquence than I could ever hope to muster. I downloaded “The Corporation” some time ago but have yet to view it. I better get to it.


  5. JimZ

    Hey Kent, I read Lew Rockwell all the time. Good site but the Libertarians just don’t seem to ever take off. If they would just care about the environment, I’d embrace them more, myself.

    Anyway, good last post, agreeing with what you said, I will embellish it a bit.

    We have been cultured to believe we have the superior culture over everyone else. WE have the greatest country in the world, etc. So what happens is all third-world and Islamic countries are viewed by our mainstream, as inferior cultures, worthy of us interfering with; exploit their natural resources, try to convert them to “democracy”, just like we did the Native Americans. This whole school of thought was especially effective in exterminating the Native American peoples. They were considered “culturally inferior”.

    If we want to go further, the usage of a monetary system is sometimes foreign to these cultures. They still trade in non-monetary goods. It has worked for them for thousands of years; why should they care about the concept of money? Once they become dependent on a monetary system, then they can be taxed and they can be exploited even further.

    If anyone has never seen the documentary moved called “The Corporation”, despite some lefty propaganda, there are some valuable concepts presented. For example, nothing has any monetary value until it is hoarded by someone/something, forcing the rest of us to pay for it if we want it or require it. So if a natural resource is shared by all for free, for the common good, if an individual or a corporation takes it over and hoards it, then it will have a monetary value. Before, it was a shared resource of life. Now it has “value”. I only offer these ideas as it relates to why the value of human life seems so trivial to Americans when we try to “bring democracy” to cultures who have no use for either it or monetary capitalism. We use the perception of “cultural inferiority” to justify to ourselves why we had to go in there and “rescue” those people from “themselves”.

  6. california rick

    This trial by the Italians is only Act I. In Act II, the Germans begin their own trial into CIA kidnappings – also worthy of note, the Germans don’t hold trials in absentia like the Italians.

  7. Kent Shaw


    Read “Blowback” by Chalmers Johnson. Its the first of a trilogy, followed by “Sorrows of Empire” and “Nemesis”.


    We have bred the terrorism through our interventionist foreign policy. We consider ourselves to be exceptional, thereby giving us the right of interference in other cultures.


    We cannot expect to continue our exceptionalist interventionist militaristic foreign policy without experiencing some “blowback” — some call it “terrorism” and use “fighting terrorism” as an excuse to continue a failed, arrogant, ignorant foreign policy. It shouldn’t take a genius to recognize how this all works.


    Get the (censored) out of Iran and Iraq and Afghanistan and a hundred-and-thirty other countries and “terrorism” will cease. There will be no “following us here”. There will only be a few raised middle fingers and a not so fond “farewell mother(censored)ers”.


    As always, in my most humble opinion of course.

  8. Kent Shaw


    From a recent article by Karen Kwiatkowski, writing for

    ” … If we are still a republic, I am not justified in advocating harsher and more radical action. … ”


    ” … Sadly, habit and evidence both point in a different direction, one of more murder, more death, more destruction – and it demands that each of us begin to learn and practice new and more frightening ways to be patriots and republicans.”


    See the complete article at


    This is a must read (as always, in my most humble opinion).

  9. Carl Nemo

    Folks, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the CIA and their incessant meddling in domestic and world affairs…!