Ex-CIA Agent Manages to Avoid Italian Prison Cell

After Italian president shaves a year off Sabrina de Sousa's sentence
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 1, 2017 12:10 PM CST
Ex-CIA Agent Manages to Avoid Italian Prison Cell
In this July 10, 2012 photo, Sabrina De Sousa poses for a portrait in Pentagon Row, Va. Virginia, on Tuesday July 10, 2012.   (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via AP)

The Italian president granted partial clemency late Tuesday to an American ex-CIA agent on the eve of her expected extradition from Portugal to serve a prison sentence for her alleged role in the kidnapping of a Muslim cleric, the AP reports. The presidential palace said President Sergio Mattarella had shaved one year off Sabrina de Sousa's four-year sentence for her role in the abduction of the cleric, Osama Moustafa Hassan Nas. Also known as Abu Omar, he was kidnapped from a Milan street in February 2003. The kidnapping was carried out under the United States' "extraordinary rendition" anti-terrorism program, which was launched after the 9/11 attacks. The program saw suspects kidnapped and transferred to centers abroad, where they were interrogated and often tortured. De Sousa denied involvement.

De Sousa, who has dual US-Portuguese citizenship, had been due to be flown from Lisbon to Milan on Wednesday to start serving her sentence. The palace noted that because her sentence was reduced to three years, she can serve out the remainder of her term outside prison, although it was unclear if she would be able to do that in Portugal. In evaluating de Sousa's request for clemency, Mattarella took into account "that the United States has interrupted the practice of extraordinary renditions," a reference to the Obama administration's decision to halt the program. De Sousa, who was detained on an international warrant at the Lisbon airport in October 2015, was one of 26 Americans who were tried and convicted in absentia for the cleric's kidnapping. (More Sabrina DeSousa stories.)

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