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Ex-CIA Spy Flees Italy Over Fear for Her Safety

Sabrina de Sousa is embroiled in a fraught rendition case
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2019 5:30 PM CDT
Former CIA agent Sabrina De Sousa arrives at Milan's palace of justice, Tuesday, July 25, 2017.   (Daniel Dal Zennaro/ANSA via AP)

(Newser) – An ex-CIA spy says she has fled Italy for America—apparently to avoid getting tossed in prison, Reuters reports. Sabrina de Sousa was one of 26 people found guilty in Italy in the 2003 "extraordinary rendition" of Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr in Milan. But De Sousa, who proclaimed her innocence, was the only one to serve prison time. Italy's president reduced her four-year sentence to community service, but a recent visit to Italy by CIA Director Gina Haspel and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seemed to carry an ill wind. "I was terrified of the consequences that I could face," said the Portuguese-American dual citizen. "The arrival of Haspel in Italy confirmed to the Italian government that the US administration had washed its hands of my case."

Why the concern? Well, De Sousa was in Portugal when Italy found her guilty and requested her extradition in 2016. Portugal sent her off, surprising De Sousa and others in the intelligence world. "I feel betrayed" by Washington, she told Fox News at the time. "I'm fighting this on my own. The US had not supported me at all on this." She expressed hope President Trump would step in and prevent what she considers a perilous precedent of letting foreign courts convict US officers and diplomats. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, a De Sousa advocate, says her criticism of rendition may have cost her valuable friends in Washington. Nasr said he underwent torture, part of the "war on terror" that human rights organizations and some US allies denounced. (Read more CIA stories.)

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