Skip to main content

American wanted by Italy in rendition case arrested in Panama

By Hada Messia, CNN
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Thu July 18, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Robert Seldon Lady was CIA's Milan base chief, prosecutors say
  • He was convicted in absentia in 2009 of abducting terrorism suspect
  • Former CIA official says Lady is no longer with the agency

Rome (CNN) -- One of the 23 Americans whom an Italian court convicted in absentia of kidnapping a terrorism suspect in 2003 has been arrested in Panama on an Italian arrest warrant, the Italian justice ministry's press office said Thursday.

The ministry identified the arrested man as Robert Seldon Lady, who Italian prosecutors said had been the CIA base chief in Milan.

In a 2009 trial, an Italian court convicted Lady and 22 others of abducting Osama Mustafa Hassan Nasr, or Abu Omar, from the streets of Milan in 2003.

The trial was the first to deal with a practice that human rights groups call "extraordinary rendition." They say the United States has often transferred terrorism suspects to countries that practice torture.

Abu Omar, who was suspected of recruiting men to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan and was under heavy surveillance by Italy's intelligence agency, was transferred to Egypt and tortured, Italian prosecutors said.

Italian prosecutors said Abu Omar was nabbed by a CIA team working with Italian officials.

A former senior CIA official said Lady is no longer with the CIA.

In the 2009 trial, the Italian court sentenced Lady to eight years in prison, prosecutor Armando Spataro said. The other Americans were sentenced to five years.

Each of the 23 Americans was ordered to pay 1 million euros (about $1.3 million) to Abu Omar, plus 500,000 euros to his wife.

But at the time, it seemed unlikely that the convictions would have much effect on the Americans, as none appeared at the trial and the Italian government did not ask for their extradition.

Washington has acknowledged making secret "rendition" transfers of terrorism suspects between countries but denies using torture or handing suspects over to countries that do.

CNN's Elise Labott contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:19 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
China and likely other countries have the capacity to shut down the U.S. power grid, says the NSA.
updated 8:21 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
If it wasn't for a comic's skit, Bill Cosby would still be America's favorite father, says expert.
updated 10:50 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Obama orders the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration in decades, prioritizing the deportation of "felons, not families."
updated 4:06 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Fighters loyal to ISIS are now in control of Derna, a city on Libya's Mediterranean coast.
updated 2:45 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
The founder of a U.S. nonprofit that works with returning soldiers is named CNN's Hero of the Year.
updated 8:24 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
It's a very big challenge but NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan thinks it can be done.
updated 7:39 PM EST, Sun November 16, 2014
CNN's Atika Shubert explains how the most recent ISIS video differs from the other previous hostage execution videos.
updated 12:38 PM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
A Syrian cleric condemns ISIS and its execution of U.S. hostage Peter Kassig.
updated 12:20 PM EST, Sun November 16, 2014
Volunteer fighters in eastern Ukraine dig down just 800 meters from the front line.
updated 12:29 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
TV anchor wears the same suit for a year. Female colleague wears new outfit daily. Who gets criticized?
updated 7:04 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT