Judge Says Agents of West Took Egyptian

May 20, 2005|From Reuters

ROME — A judge has said foreign agents kidnapped an Egyptian terrorism suspect in Milan two years ago and flew him from a U.S. base to Egypt for questioning.

The findings of an official Italian investigation into the February 2003 disappearance of cleric Hassan Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, have not yet been made public.

Judge Guido Salvini, who listed the allegations in a court document, is handling a separate investigation into suspects linked to Nasr, who is still missing. He described the alleged kidnapping as a violation of Italian sovereignty.

"It is now possible to affirm with certainty that he was kidnapped by people belonging to foreign intelligence networks interested in interrogating him and neutralizing him, to then hand him over to Egyptian authorities," Salvini said in a document dated May 17.

The Milan prosecutor's office, which is handling the Nasr investigation, said it could not confirm any of the information in the 55-page document because the case was not yet public. It also said Salvini did not have access to all documents in the Nasr investigation and expressed surprise at his conclusions.

Salvini's findings have no legal bearing on the Nasr case.

Nasr, who foreign intelligence officials believe fought in Afghanistan and Bosnia, arrived in Italy in 1997 and obtained political refugee status. He was under investigation there on suspicion of having ties to terrorists when he disappeared.

After "a kidnapping that was the work of Western agents ... he was taken to an American base, interrogated and beaten, and taken the next day on board a U.S. military plane," Salvini's document says.

The U.S. Embassy in Rome declined to comment.

This month, Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazief said the United States had transferred as many as 70 terrorism suspects to Egypt in a process known as rendition but that none had been tortured in interrogations there.

The Bush administration says it does not engage in torture or send suspects to countries without assurances that they will not be mistreated.

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