Washington ‘deeply disappointed’ over imminent extradition of former CIA agent to Italy

Feb 23, 2017
Ex-CIA case officer Sabrina De Sousa in Portugal last week.
Ex-CIA case officer Sabrina De Sousa in Portugal last week.

The United States State Department said Wednesday it was “deeply disappointed” over the imminent extradition of a former CIA agent from Portugal to Italy for her alleged role in a counterterrorism operation authorised by the US government some 14 years ago.

Sabrina De Sousa, a former CIA case officer, was detained on Monday in Portugal and is awaiting extradition to Italy and four years in prison for the 2003 abduction of a suspected terrorist living in Milan.

“We have seen reports that Portugal is proceeding with the execution of a European Arrest Warrant and transfer of Sabrina de Sousa to Italy,” a senior State Department official told Fox News.

“We are deeply disappointed in her conviction and sentence.”

De Sousa faces prison time in Italy for her role in a CIA interrogation.

The operation was part of the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program — and one De Sousa says she was not involved in.

If extradited as planned, De Sousa, who no longer works for the agency, will be the first CIA officer and US diplomat imprisoned over the controversial rendition program.

A senior State Department official told Fox News that the administration was monitoring De Sousa’s case but declined to elaborate further.

“This is a matter that US officials have been following closely,” the official said.

“We have asked our European counterparts what their next steps may be, but we are not in a position to detail those discussions.”

De Sousa, 61, was working in Milan as an undercover CIA officer in 2003 when US and Italian intelligence agents abducted radical Egyptian cleric Osama Mustapha Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, and transported him to his native Egypt for interrogation.

Phone records obtained by Italian prosecutors corroborated De Sousa’s claim that she was some 130 miles away in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, chaperoning her son’s school ski trip, on the day Omar was abducted.

Still, Italy brought “broad charges” against her for a plot she says she had no direct part in.

The abduction was part of the controversial program, implemented under President George W. Bush, and entailed taking terror suspects to countries where torture is allowed.

Omar – who turned out to be a “nobody,” according to De Sousa – was held at an American military base in Germany before being flown to Cairo, Egypt, where he says he was tortured.

He was soon released from prison for lack of prosecutable evidence against him.

In 2009, De Sousa, along with 25 other Americans, was convicted in absentia on kidnapping and other charges related to the abduction.

Several were since pardoned and not one has done time in prison.

The Italians also convicted Omar in absentia of “criminal association for the purposes of international terrorism” and sentenced him to six years in prison.

De Sousa described herself as a “scapegoat” for a program authorised by officials at the highest levels of US government.

The former agent, who spent the night in a women’s prison near Lisbon after a Portuguese court ordered police to extradite her, said she had hoped President Donald Trump would intervene on her behalf.