For Immediate Release

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Robyn Shepherd, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666;

Italian Court Finds Americans Guilty In CIA Rendition Case

U.S. Should Pursue Accountability For Rendition Crimes, Says ACLU

Italian court today convicted 23 Americans for the "extraordinary
rendition" of a Muslim cleric who was kidnapped in Milan in 2003. The
case is the first of its kind to hold Americans accountable for the
rendition of terrorism suspects overseas. The American Civil Liberties
Union calls on the U.S. to hold those involved in the illegal rendition
and torture of detainees accountable for their actions.

"The decision in Italy underscores
the need for the United States to hold its own officials accountable
for crimes committed under the 'extraordinary rendition' program. It is
shameful that the first convictions of this kind came from a foreign
justice system, where those convicted are not likely to serve their
time," said Steven Watt, staff attorney for the ACLU Human Rights
Program. "The U.S. judicial system must provide similar measures of
accountability to hold those who committed crimes in the names of the
American people responsible for their actions and provide victims of
torture with access to justice."

The three-year trial in Milan ended
in the conviction of Americans – mostly CIA agents – in the kidnapping
of Hassan Moustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar. Abu Omar was seized
on the streets of Milan in 2003 and held in U.S. military bases in
Italy and Germany, before being transferred to Egypt, where he claimed
he was tortured. After four years in detention, he was released without

The Americans were tried in
absentia, and all but one was given a five-year sentence. Former Milan
CIA station chief Robert Seldon Lady was sentenced to eight years in
prison. Three other Americans were given diplomatic immunity and
acquitted. Two Italians were convicted as accomplices to kidnapping.

Earlier this week, a rendition
lawsuit brought against U.S. government officials by Canadian citizen
Maher Arar was dismissed by a U.S. Court of Appeals which found it
could interfere with national security interests and damage U.S.
relations with other countries. Last week, a federal appeals court
announced that it will hear the government's appeal of an earlier
ruling that allowed an ACLU lawsuit to go forward against a Boeing
subsidiary, Jeppesen DataPlan Inc., for its role in the "extraordinary
rendition" program.

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