A lawyer for former CIA agent Sabrina de Sousa, convicted for the notorious daytime kidnapping of Abu Omar during George W. Bush's War on Terror, said his client will be extradited from Portugal to Italy to serve a four-year sentence.
De Sousa was one of 26 U.S. citizens convicted in absentia by an Italian court in 2009 for the 2003 kidnapping of Imam Abu Omar, who was snatched by CIA agents while walking down the street in Milan, Italy, and subsequently flown to Egypt where he was tortured.
De Sousa has denied involvement in the kidnapping, yet after a two-year legal battle a Portuguese court denied her request for a stay of extradition.
Born in India and holding dual Portuguese-U.S. citizenship, De Sousa was arrested by police in Lisbon on Monday and is currently in jail awaiting her deportation, expected to take place in the coming days, according to her lawyer.
The kidnapping and torture of Abu Omar was one of the most high-profile cases in the illegal U.S. "extraordinary rendition" program created by the Bush administration in the wake of the Sept. 11 attack in New York.
Under that program, dozens of governments colluded with the U.S. to kidnap hundreds of people and “render” them to torture, either in CIA-run "black sites," including several at the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison, or to Egypt and Syria.
U.S. President Barack Obama officially ended the undercover program — which qualified as a crime against humanity under U.N. guidelines — though current U.S. President Donald J. Trump has hinted at reinstating the program and recently appointed the director of one of those illegal torture centers as depúty director of the CIA.
Lawyers for De Sousa said that even with her deportation to Italy, she may not have to serve her four-year sentence for the kidnapping given that a U.S. pilot convicted in the case was pardoned in 2013 by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, citing the close relationship between Italy and the U.S. and a shared "common goal of promoting democracy and security."
De Sousa would be the first-ever CIA agent and U.S. diplomat to be jailed in a foreign country.
In previous interviews, De Sousa has acknowledged the U.S. kidnapping and torture program was illegal, arguing she’s been abandoned by her government in an attempt to protect those who designed the program.
“Clearly, we broke a law and we’re paying for the mistakes right now, whoever authorized and approved this,” she told ABC. "The U.S. government won't intervene because they don't want me implicating anyone else as I try to counter the charges against me."