EXCLUSIVE: Convicted CIA Spy Says "We Broke the Law"

Former CIA officer Sabrina deSousa says US abandoned her

One of the 23 Americans convicted today by an Italian court says the United States "broke the law" in the CIA kidnapping of a Muslim cleric Abu Omar in Milan in 2003.

"And we are paying for the mistakes right now, whoever authorized and approved this," said former CIA officer Sabrina deSousa in an interview to be broadcast tonight on ABC's World News with Charles Gibson.

DeSousa says the U.S. "abandoned and betrayed" her and the others who were put on trial for the kidnapping. She was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison.

Representative Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), a member of the House Intelligence Committee told ABC News that the trial was a disaster for CIA officers like DeSousa on the frontline.

"I think these people have been put out there. They've been hung out to dry. They're taking the fall potentially for a decision that was made by their superiors in our agencies. It's the wrong place to go."

Italian prosecutors said deSousa was a CIA officer who helped organized the kidnapping using her diplomat cover at the U.S. Consulate in Milan. Several former U.S. intelligence officials confirm to ABC News deSousa's role in the operation.

Without confirming her CIA role, deSousa said her status as a State Department diplomat should have protected her, but that the U.S. refused to invoke diplomatic immunity.

"Everything I did was approved back in Washington," she said. deSousa says she was on a ski trip on the actual day of the kidnapping.

The ruling by the Italian court was seen as landmark repudiation of the U.S. policy of rendition, involving the capture of suspected terrorists taken to secret locations for interrogation.

"It's clear that the kidnapping of Abu Omar was a great mistake," said Italian prosecutor Armando Spataro, who led the five-year long investigation. "It did serious damage in fighting terrorists because we don't need torture, we don't need renditions, we don't need secret prisons."

The former CIA station chief in Milan, Robert Seldon Lady, was sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison. deSousa and twenty-two others received five-year sentences.

Jeffrey Castelli, the CIA station chief in Rome, who several former CIA officers describe as the alleged architect of the kidnapping, was acquitted by the Italian court. The court ruled that he and two others had diplomatic immunity because they worked out of the U.S. Embassy in Rome.

The CIA declined to comment, as it has since the case first became public.

A State Department spokesman said the Obama administration was "disappointed" by the verdict.

Also convicted was Air Force Colonel Joseph Romano, who allegedly helped facilitate the CIA kidnapping team's flight to Egypt from a U.S. air base in Italy.

The Department of Defense had unsuccessfully claimed the court had no jurisdiction over Romano under the NATO Status of Forces Agreement.

"We are clearly disappointed with the ruling and the lack of respect for the fact that we have asserted jurisdiction in this case," said Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morrell.

"The verdict today came as a complete surprise since Italy lacks jurisdiction over Col Romano," said Romano through an attorney upon his conviction and five year sentence in Italy today. "We believe the judge clearly misapplied the law by failing to recognize his nation's obligations under the NATO Treaty. The trial judge's irresponsible actions should be an embarrassment to Italy and we find the verdict illegitimate."

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