This picture of Osama Nasr Mostafa Hassan was published by an Italian newspaper.
A judge has issued European arrest warrants for 22 purported CIA operatives
in connection with the alleged kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric from a Milan
street in 2003, a prosecutor said Friday.
Prosecutor Armando Spataro said the warrants allowed for the arrest
of the suspects in any of the 25 EU member countries. Previously, Italy had
issued arrest warrants for the 22 inside Italy.
Spataro has already sought the extradition of the 22 from the U.S. However,
the request has remained with Justice Minister Roberto Castelli, who has sought
more court documentation on the case before making any decision on whether to
forward it to Washington, Spataro said.
Earlier this week, Premier Silvio Berlusconi, a top U.S. ally, suggested the
government may not push the prosecutors' request with Washington saying, "I
don't think there is any basis in the case."
Castelli, for his part, has also questioned Spataro's motives in the case,
suggesting the prosecutor was a leftist militant and anti-American.
Milan's chief prosecutor responded by saying he fully supported Spataro, the
investigation and its findings.
The 22 people allegedly were involved in the kidnapping of cleric Osama Moustafa
Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar.
The cleric, believed to belong to an Islamic terror group, was allegedly abducted
on a Milan street on February 17, 2003, before being flown to Egypt, where he
was reportedly tortured.
The operation was believed part of the CIA's "extraordinary rendition"
program in which terrorism suspects are transferred to third countries where
some allegedly are subjected to torture.
Prosecutors say the cleric's abduction was a serious violation of Italian sovereignty,
and that it had hindered Italian terrorism investigations.