U.S. Embassy springs ex-CIA official from Panamá

The former CIA station chief in Milan has been spirited out of Panamá to the United States.

This is the man who is accused of the 2003 forced abduction of an Egyptian terror suspect, He appears to have been detained by police in Panamá as he tried to cross into Costa Rica Wednesday. He was the subject of a warrant in Italy where he had been convicted in absentia.

The man is Robert Seldon Lady, and Eric Jackson of The Panamá News said that the man had been working in that country as a mercenary in the war on drugs. There is no information what his interest was in Costa Rica or how many times he had crossed the border.

Jackson said that the U.S. Embassy in Panamá intervened. Other reports say the man was released Friday at the country’s international airport. Panamá officials said Thursday they knew nothing about the arrest. Later, they said that Italy has not presented the appropriate papers to hold Lady.

Lady, 59, was born and grew up in Honduras. He
was accused of engineering the abduction of Islamic cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr under what was called extraordinary rendition.  The cleric was later transferred to Egypt, where he was interrogated and allegedly tortured for information on his alleged links to terrorist organizations.

The cleric, suspected of recruiting militants to fight in Iraq, was released from Egyptian detention in 2007 without having been charged.

Naturally Italian justice officials are irate. The case has not raised much interest in Costa Rica although the man might have been working here. There is likely to be more fallout this week. However, the case is getting a lot of interest in the United States, mostliy from progressive online publications.

Marie Harf, the State Department deputy spokesperson in Washington, told reporters Friday that she understood that Lady was headed back to the United States but that she had no further information. Lady faced nine years in Italy, but due to an amnesty he would only have to serve six.

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