Panama arrests ex-CIA chief of station wanted by INTERPOL

Panama-Costa Rica borderBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
A retired 21-year veteran of the United States Central Intelligence Agency, who is wanted by INTERPOL for participating in the abduction of a Muslim cleric in Italy, has been detained by police in Panama. Robert Seldon Lady was the CIA’s station chief in Milan in 2003, when a team of 23 Americans, most of them CIA officers, abducted Mustafa Osama Nasr. The CIA suspected the Egyptian-born Nasr, known also as Abu Omar, of working as a recruiter for a host of radical Islamist groups, including al-Qaeda. On February 17, 2003, Nasr was seized in dramatic fashion by a group of CIA operatives in broad daylight in Milan. He was stuffed into an unmarked white van and eventually ended up in Egypt, where he was tortured before being released. Nasr’s case helped raise awareness of the US government’s extraordinary rendition program. Under the controversial program, suspected terrorist operatives were secretly taken to third-party countries where they were subjected to aggressive interrogation techniques. Italian authorities were irritated by Nasr’s kidnapping, which they claimed took place without the consent of the Italian government. There are also reports that the Italian intelligence services were monitoring Nasr at the time and were trying to recruit him as a source, which might explain why they were incensed when the Egyptian was snatched by the CIA without their authorization. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #762

Danni YatomBy IAN ALLEN | |
►►Italy postpones court decision on wanted CIA operatives. The Washington Post has published a useful update on Sabrina De Sousa, one of nearly two-dozen CIA operatives who were convicted in Italy in 2007 for the kidnapping four years earlier of Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr. The Americans kidnapped Nasr, known as Abu Omar, from the streets of Milan without the consent of Italian authorities. The Italians, who were themselves carefully monitoring Nasr, responded by convicting all members of the CIA team in absentia, and notifying INTERPOL. But last Friday, the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome postponed its verdict after a two-day hearing aimed at deciding whether to uphold or overturn the Americans’ convictions.
►►Ex-Mossad chief urges Israel to prepare for military action in Syria. In an interview with British news network Sky News, former Mossad Chief Danni Yatom said last week that Israel must be prepared for the possibility of military attacks on Syria, which may deteriorate into war.  He said his warning stems from the fear that Syria’s hundreds of tons of chemical weapons will fall into the hands of terrorists. “We would have to pre-empt in order to prevent it. We need to be prepared to launch even military attacks […] and military attacks mean maybe a deterioration to war”, said the former Mossad Director.
►►British spy agencies failed to predict Arab Spring. The Intelligence and Security Committee of the British Houses of Parliament has said in its annual report that British spy agencies had been surprised by the spread of unrest during the Arab Spring and failed to predict the dramatic uprisings that swept the region. The report also noted that the Arab Spring had exposed Britain’s decision to scale back intelligence assets in much of the Arab world, in favor of monitoring Iran and al-Qaeda. We at intelNews wrote about this in 2011.

News you may have missed #0234

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News you may have missed #0174

  • West feared German reunification in 1989, documents show. The fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago caused major anxiety in not only Eastern, but also Western capitals, to the point of outright opposition to a possible German unification, according to documents published last Friday by the National Security Archive.
  • Convicted CIA agents also in Norway. At least two of the 22 (not 23, as the article mistakenly states) CIA agents convicted last week for the 2003 abduction from Italy of Muslim cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, were also active in Norway, according to Norwegian daily Stavanger Aftenblad.
  • Shin Bet tried to recruit alleged Israeli terrorist. Jack Teitel, an American-born Jewish settler who was recently arrested for allegedly having murdered two Palestinians, was asked by Israel’s internal intelligence agency to inform on extremist Israeli groups after the attacks, the agency said Friday.

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Comment: Why the Italian Convictions of CIA Officers Matter

Sabrina DeSousa

Sabrina De Sousa

An Italian court has convicted 22 CIA officers and a US Air Force officer involved in the abduction of a Muslim cleric from Milan in 2003. All but three Americans tried in the case received jail sentences ranging from five to eight years, for kidnapping Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr in broad daylight and for illegally renditioning him to Egypt, where he says he was brutally tortured before being released without charge. As intelNews has previously reported, it is extremely unlikely that the US will agree to extradite the convicted abductors to Italy. Washington has formally invoked the NATO Status of Forces Agreement, arguing that the offenders were operating “in the course of official duty” and fall therefore under US, not Italian, jurisdiction. But the convictions are important nonetheless, for three reasons.

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News you may have missed #0134

  • S. Korean government tries to silence anti-surveillance activist. Park Won-sun, the executive director of the Hope Institute, a civic think tank, says he will continue to criticize the country’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) for spying on civilians, despite charges filed against him by the government.
  • Cleric in CIA kidnap trial seeks millions. Hassan Moustafa Osama Nasr, an Egyptian cleric kidnapped by the CIA from a Milan street in 2003, has asked for €10 million ($15 million) in damages from the American and Italian defendants charged in his abduction.
  • Three US-based Chinese nationals accused of selling arms to China. Chinese nationals Zhen Zhou Wu, Yufeng Wei, Bo Li and Chitron Electronics and Shenzhen Chitron Electronics Co. Ltd., face a 38-count indictment for conspiring to violate the US Arms Export Control Act for allegedly exporting defense weapons and electronics, money laundering and filing false documents with the US Department of Commerce.

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News you may have missed #0127

  • Is China using Nepal as a base to spy on India? India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) has accused Beijing of using the so-called Nepal-China study centers in Nepal to spy on India. The centers, which are located all along the Indo-Nepal border, are being used to clandestinely gather information on Indian activities, says RAW. It also rumored that RAW is monitoring around 30 Chinese firms which have set up base in Nepal and may be involved in spying on India.
  • Italian lawyers seek jail for CIA agents. Public prosecutors in Italy have urged a court in Milan to jail 26 Americans for the kidnapping of a terrorism suspect in a 2003 CIA operation on Italian soil. They also want a 13 year prison sentence for the former head of Italy’s secret service, Nicolo Pollari. Last week the US government moved for the first time to officially prevent Italian authorities from prosecuting American citizens involved in the CIA operation.
  • CIA director meets Pakistani spy chief. The director of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Ahmed Shuja Pasha, has met with CIA director Leon Panetta in Washington. Last week, Lieutenant General Pasha yelled at a US journalist for daring to utter the CIA’s allegations that the ISI is withholding crucial intelligence information on al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

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