An Italian court on Friday issued arrest warrants for 22 alleged CIA agents suspected of kidnapping a Muslim cleric in Italy, prosecutors said.
The warrants were issued by a Milan court, they said.Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, whom Italian investigators have accused of ties to al Qaeda and recruiting combatants for Iraq, was allegedly kidnapped by 22 CIA agents in aMilan street in February 2003 and flown to Egypt for interrogation.
The former Imam, who is also known as Abu Omar, alleges he was tortured and beaten while being questioned in prison in Egypt. The Italian move means the American agents may be arrested in any of the European Union's 25 member states.
A European Union warrant, which was agreed by the European Union in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States in 2001, is automatically valid across the European Union and does not require approval of any government.
A recent report by the Washington Post alleges that the CIA agents had lied to Italy about the suspect's whereabouts and that they had briefed their Italian counterparts about his abduction. Italy has arrested around 200 terror suspects in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the United States, according to Interior Ministry data.
The vast majority of the suspects, however, were later released for lack of evidence.
(Xinhua News Agency December 24, 2005)