(CN) – One of the 26 U.S. foreign service officers facing criminal prosecution in Italy for their alleged involvement in the United States’ “extraordinary rendition” program has sued Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for refusing to intervene on her behalf and declare her diplomatically immune from prosecution in Italy.
Sabrina De Sousa says she “has been ordered to remain silent,” unable to defend herself from the allegations, and cannot travel overseas due to the threat of arrest.
De Sousa says she worked for the State Department from 1998 until February this year, when she “reluctantly resigned” due to “the untenable position in which the defendants had placed her.”
De Sousa claims that diplomatic immunity has been one of the principles of diplomatic relations for more than 50 years, but that Italy’s investigation and criminal proceedings against the U.S. foreign service officers concerning “an alleged ‘extraordinary rendition’ in Milan, Italy six years ago has threatened to undermine those steadfast principles.”
In her federal complaint in the District of Columbia, De Sousa says she is one of the 26 U.S. officials investigated and accused in Italy. She says that for three years she “has been forced to watch from the sidelines” as the U.S. government “refused to intervene on her behalf and declare that she is immune from the Italian criminal proceedings.”
De Sousa’s complaint concerns the alleged kidnapping, in Milan, of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr aka Abu Omar on Feb. 17, 2003. The kidnapping allegedly was carried out by U.S. and Italian intelligence officials, according to her complaint. She says she was 130 miles away at a ski resort that day.
Abu Omar has filed a civil lawsuit in Italy over his alleged kidnapping. He says he was flown to Egypt, where he was interrogated under torture.
An Italian prosecutor issued arrest warrants in July 2005 for 22 alleged CIA operatives. In July 2006, an arrest warrant was issued for De Sousa, accusing her of being “one of the four main USG officials responsible for coordinating the alleged operation,” according to her complaint.
De Sousa “categorically denies having any involvement in the alleged kidnapping of Abu Omar.” She “rejects the allegation that she was a principal planner of the alleged operation.” And she says that “even if the allegations were true … her action clearly fell within the scope of her official duties and thereby entitle her to diplomatic/consular immunity.”
De Sousa says she was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Rome as a Political Officer, Second Secretary in August 1998. In May 2001 she was made a consul at the U.S. Consulate in Milan. On Feb. 16, 2007, “Judge Magi formally indicted De Sousa for involvement in the alleged kidnapping of Abu Omar.”
She demands that the United States invoke diplomatic immunity on her behalf and provide her with legal representation in the criminal and civil proceedings in Italy. She also demands a “name-clearing hearing” where she can rebut the accusations that “forced her to resign.” And she wants the costs of defending herself from allegations in the cases. She is represented by Bradley Moss.