Ex-CIA chief allowed to return to U.S.
By McClatchy Newspapers
Published: Friday, July 19, 2013, 9:36 p.m.
Panama on Friday allowed a retired CIA station chief wanted in Italy for his role in the 2003 abduction of an Egyptian Muslim cleric to leave for the United States, permitting the former intelligence agent to avoid an Italian jail cell.
Robert Seldon Lady, the former CIA station chief in Milan, had been arrested earlier in the week as he attempted to cross into Costa Rica from Panama.
Panama offered no explanation for its decision to authorize Lady's release, but Italy's foreign ministry said it respected Panama's action in a sign that none of the countries involved cared to reopen one of the most controversial incidents of the George W. Bush administration's prosecution of its war against terrorism as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“It's my understanding that he is in fact either en route or back in the United States,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said during a daily briefing in Washington.
Lady, 59, was convicted along with 22 other CIA agents for the abduction of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, an Egyptian cleric who U.S. officials said was recruiting radical Muslims for jihad in the Middle East. Nasr, widely known as Abu Omar, later turned up in an Egyptian prison, where his lawyer said he'd been repeatedly tortured.
Lady's detention brought to the fore an issue that leaders in both Italy and the United States had sought to keep out of the limelight.
“It's a sensitive issue, and it is a source of embarrassment to the two countries. We cooperate on all kinds of things,” said Michael Calingaert, a visiting scholar and expert on U.S.-Italian relations at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
- Holocaust survivors taxed, student finds in search of Amsterdam city archives
- Syria yields bulk of toxic weapons
- Toll rises in South Korean ferry tragedy; more of crew held
- Pistorius team denies claim he took acting lesson
- U.S. increases surveillance of N. Korea amidst rumors
- Extension for sputtering Mideast talks possible
- U.S. drone strike in Yemen kills suspected al-Qaida militants
- Russia’s push into Ukraine leads NATO to increase its Baltics presence
- Yemen: Airstrike targets al-Qaida training camps
- Kidnapping toll in Nigeria jumps to 234
- Some allowed to return to towns near Fukushima’s damaged nuke plant