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Ex-spy for Italy denies illegal role

January 30, 2007|From the Associated Press

MILAN, ITALY — A former Italian intelligence chief who faces indictment over the alleged kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric in the CIA's "extraordinary renditions" program said Monday that he never took part in illegal activity.

Nicolo Pollari said at a hearing that he was unable to defend himself properly, asserting that documents that would clarify his position had been excluded from the proceedings because they contained state secrets, his lawyers said.

Pollari is one of five Italian intelligence officials facing indictment in the alleged abduction of cleric and terrorism suspect Hassan Osama Nasr, widely known as Abu Omar, from a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003.

Prosecutors say Pollari and other officials of the military intelligence agency SISMI worked with Americans to abduct the cleric.

Twenty-six Americans also could be indicted in what would be the first criminal prosecution involving the CIA program to secretly transfer terrorism suspects to third countries, where critics say they may face torture.

About 80 documents would show that Pollari did not participate in any illegal activity, but they contain sensitive information and cannot be used in court, said his lawyer, Franco Coppi.

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