Italian prosecutor: Convicted US diplomat held in Portugal

De Sousa was among 26 Americans, mostly CIA agents, convicted in absentia over the of kidnapping of Milan cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, known as Abu Omar.

PTI| Updated: Oct 09, 2015, 00:50 AM IST

Milan: A former India-born CIA operative convicted of the kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric as part of the extraordinary renditions programme has been detained in Portugal and is awaiting a decision on whether she will be turned over to Italy to serve her six-year sentence, a top Italian prosecutor said today.

Sabrina De Sousa was arrested at Lisbon Airport on Monday, and released yesterday after authorities seized her passport, prosecutor Armando Spataro told The Associated Press. "She is awaiting a decision on whether she will be brought to Italy," Spataro said. It was not clear if she was arriving or departing when she was arrested.

De Sousa was among 26 Americans, mostly CIA agents, convicted in absentia over the of kidnapping of Milan cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, known as Abu Omar, in broad daylight from a Milan street on February 17, 2003.

Even after the convictions, Italy never made a formal extradition request for the Americans in the politically charged case.

In the absence of an extradition request, Spataro said it is likely that De Sousa was picked up on a European arrest warrant that was issued via law-enforcement channels after her conviction.

Portuguese authorities said the only person authorized to discuss the case was the judge handling it but he did not immediately respond to telephone messages seeking comment. There was no immediate word on when the case would be heard.

The Italian Justice Ministry did not immediately return calls seeking comment on De Sousa's detention.

De Sousa, an ex-CIA operative who operated under diplomatic cover, was initially acquitted due to diplomatic immunity, but was found guilty by Italy's highest court in 2014.

De Sousa came out publicly against the US decision not to allow the American defendants to get their own lawyers near the end of the first trial, eventually winning permission to have her own counsel.

De Sousa said she was concerned about losing her freedom to travel to visit family in India. The 26 Americans received sentences of six to nine years. Italy later pardoned the only military defendant.