Accused CIA Agent Sues for Diplomatic Immunity

Tuesday, June 02, 2009
The case in which 25 alleged CIA agents are being prosecuted in Italy for the 2005 kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric was complicated to begin with. A recent lawsuit has added to the complexity. Sabrina De Sousa, one of the American officials accused in the case, has sued the State Department in order to gain diplomatic immunity. De Sousa has been charged by Italian prosecutors with working for the Central Intelligence Agency when they carried out the kidnapping of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar.
The incident took place in Milan, Italy in February 2003 when, in an act of extraordinary rendition, CIA operatives kidnapped Abu Omar and delivered him to Egypt, where he was interrogated and allegedly tortured.
De Sousa, 53, grew up in India and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1985. She began serving at the U.S. Embassy in Rome in August 1998 and moved on to the U.S. Consulate in Milan in May 2001. She says that her position in Milan was that of a diplomat, but Italian prosecutors claim that she was using her persona as a diplomat as cover for her true role as a CIA agent. In July 2006, an arrest warrant was issued in Milan on the grounds that she was one of the four officials responsible for coordinating the kidnapping. In her lawsuit, De Sousa argues that because she held a diplomatic passport while she was in Italy, she is entitled to diplomatic immunity, legal counsel in Italy, and the payment of bills associated with the trial. The other officers charged in the case cannot invoke diplomatic immunity.
As for Abu Omar, he was released in February 2007, and has filed a civil suit against his alleged kidnappers.
 -David Wallechinsky, Jacquelyn Lickness
Woman in Rendition Case Sues for Immunity (by Scott Shane, New York Times)
Italy Seeks Indictments of C.I.A. Operatives in Egyptian’s Abduction (by Ian Fisher and Elisabetta Povoledo, New York Times)


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