Kidnapped by the CIA and Abused by Egyptians, Cleric Claims

Feb 22, 2007 3:12pm

Egyptian cleric Osama Hassan Mustafa Nasr, better known as Abu Omar, told reporters at an Alexandria court today he was tortured in an Egyptian prison after allegedly being kidnapped by CIA agents off the streets of Milan in 2003. Abu Omar, whose alleged kidnapping by the CIA was part of the controversial U.S. rendition program, spoke to reporters during his first public appearance since being released by Egyptian  authorities. He was attending the sentencing hearing of an Egyptian blogger who was sentenced to four years in prison for criticizing Islam and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Abu Omar is at the center of the recent indictments served by an Italian judge earlier this month against 26 Americans – 25 CIA agents and a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel – and seven Italians, including the former head of Italy’s military intelligence service. Italy has not yet decided if it will make extradition requests for the Americans charged. The Italian justice minister was scheduled to speak to parliament today about whether the government was going to request the extradition of the CIA agents, but his speech was canceled because of the political crisis facing the country after the Italian prime minister quit. If Italy decides to ask for extradition, it is highly unlikely the U.S. would comply. The trial, which would be the first to address what is considered one of President Bush’s most controversial programs in fighting terrorism, is scheduled to start June 8. Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. Abu Omar, who was released just this month without charge, four years after he was allegedly kidnapped, claims he was tortured repeatedly in Egypt. "I was subjected to the worst kind of torture in Egyptian prisons. I have scars of torture all over my body," he reportedly told journalists. He further told reporters "cockroaches and rats ran over my body…When the guard came in, I had to get on my knees or he would beat me with a baton that dealt electric shocks." Abu Omar is part of an Italian terrorism investigation, but he says he is innocent and wants to return to Italy, where he was granted political asylum in 2001. "I want to go back to Italy, but I’m banned from leaving Egypt. I want to go back and stand in front of the Italian judiciary and prove my innocence," he told reporters today.

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