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Ex-CIA officer held in Panama over cleric's 'extraordinary rendition'

An ex-CIA officer convicted by an Italian court of kidnapping a terror suspect in 2003 has been detained in Panama.

Robert Seldon Lady, formerly the CIA chief in Milan, was sentenced to nine years in jail for his involvement in the abduction of an Egyptian cleric snatched off the street in the northern Italian city, according to BBC News.

The cleric, Abu Omar, was held at United States military bases in Italy and German before being flown to Egypt, where he was allegedly tortured and eventually released.

The case, described as one of the most blatant examples of extraordinary rendition, raised tensions between Rome and Washington -- usually stalwart allies.

Lady, 59, was one of 23 Americans, mostly CIA officers or contractors, tried and convicted in abstentia over the crime. The sentence was handed down last year.

He was detained at the Panama-Costa Rica border Wednesday after Italy requested his arrest.

According to Italian media reports, an international warrant was sought by the justice minister in Italy's previous government in December 2012.

It wasn't immediately clear whether Italy would request Lady's extradition.

A few months before his conviction, Lady told the Italian newspaper Il Giornale: "Of course it was an illegal operation. But that's our job. We're at war against terrorism."

[Source: Global Post, Us, 18Jul13]

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