Italy court upholds “rendition” convictions on ex-CIA agents

Egyptian cleric Abu Omar speaks to the media at a court house in Alexandria

ROME (Reuters) – Italy's highest court on Wednesday upheld guilty verdicts on 23 Americans for the kidnapping of an Egyptian Muslim cleric, in the first criminal convictions for CIA "rendition" flights during the U.S. 'war on terror'.

The Americans – 22 CIA agents and one Air Force pilot – who are believed to be in the United States and were tried in their absence – are unlikely to serve their sentences. But they will be unable to travel to Europe without risking arrest.

Italy has never requested their extradition.

All of the Americans were sentenced to seven years' jail by a lower court except former CIA Milan station chief Robert Seldon Lady, who was handed a nine-year sentence. The decision was given to journalists by a court official.

Italy's highest appeals court, or Court of Cassation, also said five senior Italian secret service agents could be tried for the abduction, overturning a previous ruling barring a trial on the grounds it would reveal state secrets.

The five are the former head of Italy's Sismi military intelligence agency Nicolo Pollari..

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