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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

US won't extradite indicted CIA agents to Italy

The United States will refuse any Italian extradition request for CIA agents indicted in the alleged abduction of an Egyptian cleric in Milan, a senior US official said Wednesday.

"We've not got an extradition request from Italy. If we got an extradition request from Italy, we would not extradite US officials to Italy," John Bellinger, legal adviser to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, told journalists after meeting legal advisers to EU governments.

Milan prosecutors want the Italian government to forward to Washington their request for the extradition of the 26 Americans, mostly CIA agents. The previous government of Silvio Berlusconi refused, and Premier Romano Prodi's center-left government has indicated it would not press Washington on the issue.

The 26 are accused in the abduction of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr from a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003. Nasr was allegedly taken to Aviano Air Base near Venice, Ramstein Air Base in southern Germany, and then to Egypt, where he was held for four years and, according to his lawyer, tortured. He was freed last week by an Egyptian court that ruled his detention was "unfounded."

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