The Associated Press reports: A former CIA base chief convicted in the 2003 abduction of an Egyptian terror suspect is being sent to the United States instead of Italy, which wanted him to serve prison time for his role in the notorious anti-terrorism program known as extraordinary rendition, the U.S. State Department said Friday.
Robert Seldon Lady was detained in Panama this week after Italy and Interpol requested his arrest. After barely two days in detention, he was put on a plane to the U.S. by Panama, a close U.S. ally that offered no explanation for its decision.
“It’s my understanding that he is in fact either en route or back in the United States,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters in Washington. She declined to disclose other details about his case.
Italy’s deputy foreign minister, Lap Pistelli, said in a statement that Italy “acknowledges” Panama’s decision, adding nothing more about the case. Italy and Panama have no extradition treaty, Italian diplomats said, but Panama would have been free to send Lady to Italy if it wanted.
Lady had crossed the border into Costa Rica this week and was sent back to Panama where he was detained, according to an Italian official familiar with Italy’s investigation of the rendition of Cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the case.
A Panamanian National Police official said Lady, 59, had been detained Wednesday on the Costa Rica-Panama border. The official also spoke on condition of anonymity due to lack of authorization to discuss the matter.
A senior U.S. administration official said that Lady was detained in Panama on Thursday and that he was “expelled” by Panamanian immigration officials. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the details of the case.
“It’s just pretty astonishing that this hopeful moment for some accountability turned so quickly on its head,” said Katherine Gallagher, a senior attorney at the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which has fought against U.S. practices such as extraordinary rendition and detention of terrorism suspected at the Guantanamo Bay prison. [Continue reading…]