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Ex-CIA official, convicted of kidnapping in Italy, held in Panama

Former CIA Milan station chief Robert Seldon Lady, convicted in Italy of kidnapping an Egyptian Muslim cleric, has been arrested in Panama, Italian and Panamanian officials said on Thursday.

Italy's top court last year upheld a guilty verdict against Seldon Lady for the kidnapping of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr.

Seldon Lady was originally sentenced in the first trial of its kind against "rendition" flights practiced by the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Panamanian police official said Seldon Lady had been arrested by Panama's border authorities and handed over to Interpol.

It was not clear where Seldon Lady would be taken. Italy and Panama have no bilateral extradition treaty, according to documents on the Italian Justice Ministry's website.

Earlier on Thursday, Italian judicial sources also said that Seldon Lady had been captured in Panama.

The CIA declined to comment.

Osama Nasr was snatched from a Milan street in 2003 and flown to Egypt for interrogation, where he says he was tortured for seven months. The imam, also known as Abu Omar, was a resident of Italy at the time of the abduction.

Prosecutors alleged the CIA flew the imam from northern Italy via Germany to Egypt, where he says he was tortured with electric shocks, beatings, rape threats and genital abuse.

In 2009, an Italian judge sentenced 23 Americans, including Seldon Lady, in absentia for the abduction of the cleric. Seldon Lady was handed a nine-year jail term, the heftiest sentence.

The rendition flights by the Bush administration have been condemned by human rights groups, and prompted investigations into the procedure in countries allied to the United States.

[Source: Reuters, Panama City, 18Jul13]

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