Nation/World

In brief: Ex-CIA officer held over 2003 rendition

PANAMA CITY – A former CIA base chief convicted in the 2003 abduction of a terror suspect from an Italian street has been detained in Panama after Italy requested his arrest in one of the most notorious episodes of the U.S. program known as extraordinary rendition, Italian and Panamanian officials said Thursday.

Robert Seldon Lady, 59, the former CIA chief in Milan, entered Panama, crossed the border into Costa Rica and was sent back to Panama where he was detained, according to an Italian official familiar with Italy’s investigation of the rendition of cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was hustled into a car in February 2003 on a street in Milan and transferred to U.S. military bases in Italy and Germany before being flown to Egypt. He alleged he was tortured in Egypt before being released.

Italy conducted an investigation and charged 26 CIA and other U.S. government employees. All left Italy before charges were filed in the first trial in the world involving the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, under which terror suspects were abducted and transferred to third countries.

North Korean ship’s crew charged

PANAMA CITY – Panama has filed charges against the crew of a North Korean ship seized as it tried to pass through the Panama Canal while carrying obsolete weaponry from Cuba hidden under bags of sugar, possibly in violation of U.N. sanctions.

Ramon Lopez, operations director for Panama’s National Aeronautics Service, said authorities decided to stop the ship after getting intelligence from the United States and other countries about a suspicious North Korean vessel.

“There was a lot of tension and strong resistance during the inspection,” said Lopez, adding that the inspection lasted for three days.

Panama’s top prosecutor, Javier Caraballo, said the captain and 35 crew members have been charged with “attempts against Panama’s security” and “illegally transporting undeclared military equipment.”



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