Extradition: Ex-CIA officer begs Trump
A former CIA officer Sabrina De Sousa, faces imminent extradition to Italy for her alleged role in the 2003 rendition of a terror suspect.
The 61-year-old De Sousa was skiing with her son in Northern Italy on a chilly February day in 2003 when agents snatched a suspected terrorist off the streets of Milan as part of the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program.
Fourteen years later, De Sousa faces imminent extradition from Portugal to Italy and six years in jail in connection with the abduction after being convicted in absentia by Italian courts for a decision made by the highest levels of U.S. government.
De Sousa, who no longer works for the agency, could become the first CIA officer and U.S. diplomat imprisoned over the controversial rendition program and she is making an urgent appeal for intervention.
“I’m a scapegoat,” De Sousa told FoxNews.com Wednesday, in an extensive phone interview from her home in Portugal.
The former officer claims the Obama administration has ignored all requests to intervene on her behalf but hopes the incoming Donald Trump administration might be able to help.
Time is not on her side.
Trump’s inauguration would come after the Italy-set Jan. 17 extradition date. According to De Sousa, this would “set a hugely bad precedent for the conviction by an allied nation of a U.S. diplomat.”
De Souza was working in Milan as an undercover CIA officer in 2003 when U.S. 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.
The authorised operation was part of the controversial program implemented under President George W. Bush in which terror suspects could be transferred 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 claims 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, were 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.
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 Italians said, ‘She was responsible for planning and without her OK, it never would have happened, ”De Sousa told FoxNews.com.
“And this came third-hand from someone who told an Italian intelligence officer.”
“We are being convicted for decisions made for which we had no input at all,” she said. “Nobody wants to look any higher, and this is the best way to deflect attention from anyone else.”
The former spy, who was born in India and holds both American and Portuguese passports, left the CIA in 2009 and moved to Portugal in April 2015 to be near family.
In October 2015, she was detained at Lisbon’s airport on a European arrest warrant while attempting to travel to India. She was later released but ordered to remain in Portugal.
The series of events that followed amount to an international legal nightmare.
Italy first sought extradition of De Sousa with the guarantee of a retrial or appeal with new evidence, acknowledging she had been tried in absentia. Based on these guarantees, the Portuguese courts agreed to extradite.
But in June 2016, Italy sent Portugal a letter saying De Sousa’s conviction was final, and no retrial would be granted.
In a move that shocked De Sousa and others in the intelligence community, Portugal’s high court ordered her immediate extradition.
De Sousa acknowledges her move from the U.S. to Portugal was “catastrophic.” The 61-year-old mother, who recently underwent eye surgery, has been ordered by her doctor to remain in Portugal until her recovery. Her extradition date is now set for Jan. 17.
This follows years of unsuccessful bids to clear her name. De Sousa said she continues to cling to hope that a new administration might come to her aid.
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