Abu Omar Describes His Abduction by CIA
Remember in 2005, when Italy issued arrest warrants for 13 CIA agents alleged to have kidnapped suspected radical muslims and flown them on Ghost Air to secret prisons in countries that practice torture?
One of those Italy alleged to have been kidnapped by the CIA, flown to Egypt and tortured was Abu Omar, also known as Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr.
The Washington Post reports that an 11 page handwritten account of his kidnap and torture has been smuggled out of the Egyptian prison where Abu is being held and made its way to Italian prosecutors. He describes his torture (many details have previously been made public by the Italian newspaper):
In his letter, Nasr described how his health had badly deteriorated. He had lost hearing in one ear from repeated beatings, he said, and his formerly pitch-black hair had turned all white. He said he was kept in a cell with no toilet and no lights, where "roaches and rats walked across my body."
He also gave a graphic account of Egyptian interrogation practices, including how he would be strapped to an iron rack nicknamed "the Bride" and zapped with electric stun guns.
On other occasions, he wrote, he was tied to a wet mattress on the floor. While one interrogator sat on a wooden chair perched on the prisoner's shoulders, another interrogator would flip a switch, sending jolts of electricity into the mattress coils.
Who gave the orders for the kidnapping?
Court papers allege that the kidnapping was orchestrated by the CIA's station chief in Rome and involved at least two dozen CIA operatives, most of whom arrived in Italy months before to lay the groundwork. Italian judges have issued arrest warrants for the CIA officers and have pledged to try them in absentia if necessary.
The U.S. has refused to confirm or deny the allegations.
As to Abu Omar's current whereabouts:
Nasr's wife and his lawyer in Cairo have said the cleric is still imprisoned in Egypt, although he has been released under house arrest for brief periods.
Some say the release of the letter places him in greater danger:
Abdel Hamid Shaari, president of the Islamic Cultural Center in Milan, said he was worried that the public disclosure of Nasr's letter could jeopardize his life, or at least dash any chances that he might be released. "What are they going to do with him now?" Shaari said. "He's a problem for the Italians, the Egyptians and the Americans."
Amnesty International's report on the U.S.'s use of extradorinary secret renditions (via Ghost Air) is here.
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