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Egypt releases cleric allegedly seized by CIA

February 12, 2007|From Reuters

CAIRO — Egyptian authorities have released a Muslim cleric kidnapped in a suspected CIA operation in Italy and handed over to Egypt, the cleric's lawyer said Sunday.

Hassan Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was grabbed off a Milan street in 2003 and flown to Egypt, where he said he had been tortured by Egyptian agents using electric shocks, beatings, rape threats and genital abuse.

Lawyer Montasser Zayat said a court had ordered Nasr to be freed, and the Interior Ministry had complied. "I expected that the justifications for his detention are done with. It's no longer a secret," Zayat said.

Although Nasr was initially charged with membership in an illegal organization, the charges were dropped, and he was briefly released in April 2004 before being detained without charge under Egypt's emergency laws.

Zayat said he believed Nasr was rearrested after ignoring warnings not to speak to anyone about what happened to him.

International rights groups say torture is systemic in Egyptian jails and police stations. Egypt says that it does not condone torture, and that it occurs only in isolated instances.

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