BARRY HATTON, AP
LISBON, Portugal (AP) — A Portuguese court has ordered police to extradite a former CIA agent to Italy, where she is due to serve a four-year prison sentence after being convicted of involvement in a U.S. program that kidnapped suspects for interrogation, her lawyer said Tuesday.
Police took Sabrina de Sousa to a Portuguese jail where she is awaiting extradition, her Portuguese lawyer, Manuel Magalhaes e Silva, told the Associated Press. He said in an email that she was detained Monday and is expected to be sent to Italy within days.
De Sousa was among 26 Americans convicted for kidnapping suspect Osama Moustafa Hassan Nas, also known as Abu Omar, from a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003. She denied involvement in the abduction.
The U.S. rendition program, under which terror suspects were kidnapped and transferred to centers where they were interrogated and tortured, was part of the anti-terrorism strategy of the Bush administration following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Former President Barack Obama ended the program years later.
De Sousa lost several appeals against extradition since her arrest at Lisbon Airport in October 2015 on a European warrant. She had argued she was never officially informed of the Italian court conviction and couldn’t use confidential U.S. government information to defend herself.
De Sousa is expected to be jailed immediately upon her arrival in Italy in a prison in either Rome or Milan, her Italian lawyer Dario Bolognesi told the AP. Once she is incarcerated, Bolognesi said he would make a formal request for her to be granted semi-freedom and serve her sentence doing social work.
At the same time, Bolognesi said he was due to meet later Tuesday with Italian Justice Ministry officials to assess the status of De Sousa’s request for clemency.
However, the written ruling by the Lisbon judges, provided to the AP by the court, said that the verdict in Italy which provided the grounds for the European arrest warrant is “not final.” The warrant, the judges note, recognizes that she has the right to a new trial or can file an appeal because she was judged in absentia and was not officially notified of the trial date or the sentence.
Furthermore, the judges make clear that if she is convicted in new proceedings, as a Portuguese citizen she is entitled to serve any prison time in Portugal.
De Sousa, who was born in India and holds both U.S. and Portuguese passports, has said she had been living in Portugal and intended to settle there. She was on her way to visit her elderly mother in India with a roundtrip ticket when she was detained.
Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed to this story.
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