Ex-CIA agent in last ditch appeal against return

2016-04-11 19:52
A 2012 file photo of  Sabrina De Sousa. (Nikki Kahn, The Washington Post via AP)

A 2012 file photo of Sabrina De Sousa. (Nikki Kahn, The Washington Post via AP)

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Lisbon - A former CIA operative has lodged an appeal at Portugal's Constitutional Court against her extradition to Italy, a court official said on Monday.

The appeal is Sabrina De Sousa's last-ditch effort to stop being returned to Italy to serve a six-year sentence there for her part in the US extraordinary renditions programme.

A Constitutional Court official told The Associated Press the appeal was logged on Monday. The appeal came after the country's Supreme Court rejected her earlier appeal against extradition, according to an official at that court.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with their courts' rules.

The Constitutional Court represents De Sousa's only remaining recourse to avoid being sent to Italy. The official declined to give details of the grounds for appeal and said it was impossible to estimate how long a decision could take.


De Sousa's Portuguese lawyer, Manuel Magalhaes e Silva, did not immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment. Her Italian lawyer, Dario Bolognesi, said he is hopeful of obtaining clemency from Italy's president.

De Sousa, who was working in Italy under diplomatic cover, faces prison for her role in the 2003 kidnapping in Milan of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, a terror suspect who was under surveillance by Italian law enforcement at the time. De Sousa was among 26 Americans convicted in absentia in the case, which also implicated Italy's secret services and has proven embarrassing to successive Italian governments.

The extraordinary rendition programme was part of the anti-terrorism strategy of the US administration following the September 11 attacks. Years later, President Barack Obama ended the programme.

A lower Lisbon court ruled in January that De Sousa should be turned over to Italy following her arrest at Lisbon Airport in October on a European warrant. Authorities seized her passport while awaiting the court decision on her extradition.

De Sousa, who was born in India and holds both US and Portuguese passports, has said that she had been living in Portugal and intended to settle there. She was on her way to visit her elderly mother in India with a round trip ticket when she was detained.

Bolognesi, her Italian lawyer, told the AP he has been meeting and will continue to meet with officials to explore the possibility that President Sergio Mattarella, Italy's head of state, could lower her sentence to the point she would be eligible in Italy to do social services instead of prison time.

He noted that other convicted defendants have benefited from presidential clemency. In December 2015, Mattarella shaved two years off the sentence of a former CIA base chief, Robert Seldon Lady. Mattarella also wiped out the entire three-year penalty for another American convicted in the case. Others convicted in the case have requested clemency, according to Italian officials.

Both Mattarella and his predecessor, Giorgio Napolitano, have cited Obama's decision to end extraordinary rendition as their motive for granting reprieves.

Read more on:    cia  |  us  |  italy  |  portugal

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