Lawyer: Portugal to extradite ex-CIA agent to Italian jail

AP News
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Posted: Feb 21, 2017 1:32 PM
Lawyer: Portugal to extradite ex-CIA agent to Italian jail

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — A Portuguese court has ordered police to extradite a former CIA agent to Italy, where she is due to serve a four-year prison sentence after being convicted of involvement in a U.S. program that kidnapped suspects for interrogation, her lawyer said Tuesday.

Police took Sabrina de Sousa to a Portuguese jail where she is awaiting extradition, her Portuguese lawyer, Manuel Magalhaes e Silva, told the Associated Press. He said in an email that she was detained Monday and is expected to be sent to Italy within days.

De Sousa was among 26 Americans convicted of kidnapping suspect Osama Moustafa Hassan Nas, also known as Abu Omar, from a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003. She denied involvement in the abduction.

The U.S. rendition program, under which terror suspects were kidnapped and transferred to centers where they were interrogated and tortured, was part of the anti-terrorism strategy of the Bush administration following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Former President Barack Obama ended the program years later.

De Sousa lost several appeals against extradition since her arrest at Lisbon Airport in October 2015 on a European warrant. She had argued she was never officially informed of the Italian court conviction and couldn't use confidential U.S. government information to defend herself.

Once in Italy, De Sousa is expected to be taken to a women's prison in Milan, but her Italian lawyer Dario Bolognesi said he would immediately appeal to the Milan court to defer her imprisonment pending a decision on her years-long request for clemency. Other Americans convicted in the case have received clemency from the Italian president.

Bolognesi met Tuesday with Justice Ministry officials who are reviewing the clemency request and emerged optimistic.

Regardless, he said he would also request that De Sousa be granted semi-freedom and serve any sentence doing social work.

He disputed the written ruling by the Lisbon judges that said that the verdict in Italy that provided the grounds for the European arrest warrant was "not final." He said the Italian case went all the way to the highest court and is final.

De Sousa, who was born in India and holds both U.S. and Portuguese passports, has said she had been living in Portugal and intended to settle there. She was on her way to visit her elderly mother in India with a roundtrip ticket when she was detained.

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Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed to this story.