US Steps In to Stop Indian-Origin CIA Spy’s Extradition to Italy
File photo of Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump. (Photo: AP)
File photo of Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump. (Photo: AP)

US Steps In to Stop Indian-Origin CIA Spy’s Extradition to Italy

The United States is reportedly stepping in to rescue a former CIA spy of Indian-origin, who Portugal is likely to extradite next week to Italy.

The former agent, Sabrina de Sousa, was convicted in absentia for the kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric, on condition she is retried, her lawyer said on Thursday.

De Sousa, who is a dual US-Portuguese citizen and denies involvement in the abduction, was detained by Portuguese police on Monday and is awaiting extradition in a prison in Porto. Italian prosecutors want her to serve a six-year sentence.

The Donald Trump-led White House’s involvement in the case will be closely watched, in light of Trump’s open dismissal of the US’ allies in Europe. This will be another blow to the growing rift between the United States and the European Union.

Also Read: Indian-American CIA Agent Tried for Clandestine Operation in Italy

De Sousa is one of 26 people convicted in absentia on charges of snatching Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr from a street in Milan in 2003 and taking him to be questioned in Egypt under the US "extraordinary rendition" programme.

The programme was one of Washington's most controversial responses to the 11 September 2001, al-Qaeda attacks in the United States. Nasr, who was on a US list of militant suspects, said he was tortured under interrogation after being transferred to Egypt.

De Sousa’s Italian lawyer, Dario Bolognesi, said he would ask a Milan appeals court to defer de Sousa's sentence, in the hope she would get a pardon like the ones Italy's President extended last year to two other officials convicted in the case.

A White House official reportedly told Fox News:

The US government’s view is that this [conviction] was a violation of her diplomatic status. We’re very concerned and following the case closely... the highest levels of our government are trying to intervene on her behalf.

De Sousa says she was outside of Milan in the mountains on the day of the kidnapping. Several of her appeals to Portuguese authorities against the extradition failed last year.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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