Ex-CIA Spy Nabbed in Panama Over Italian Abduction

Four years after being convicted in absentia of the abduction of Egyptian-born cleric and accused terrorist Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, Robert Seldon Lady, formerly the CIA's Milan station chief, was arrested in Panama.

Lady, for whom an international arrest warrant was issued in December, was arrested on the border of Panama and Costa Rica. In 2003, Lady and other CIA officers, in concert with Italian military intelligence orchestrated the extraordinary rendition of Nasr, snatching him from a Milan street and flying him to Germany and then Egypt, where he says he was tortured. He was released four years later.

"I'm not guilty. I'm only responsible for carrying out orders that I received from my superiors," Lady told Il Giornale in 2009. "Of course it was an illegal operation. But that’s our job. We’re at war against terrorism." The Obama administration has continued the practice of extraordinary rendition, though it claims that it has stopped the torture of suspects.

Lady and 22 other CIA officers were convicted of the kidnapping at the time, all in absentia. In February of this year, three other CIA officers were also convicted, in addition to five former Italian intelligence agents, all of whom were jailed in sentences ranging from six to ten years.

Panama and Italy don't have an extradition treaty, so it remains to be seen if Lady will serve time in Italy.

[image, of protestor at the 2009 trial, via AP]