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Ex-CIA spy held in Portugal over kidnap avoids extradition, will be freed

A former CIA officer convicted for involvement in the kidnap of an Egyptian cleric in Italy won a last-minute reprieve from deportation from Portugal on Wednesday and will be released, her lawyer said.

Sabrina de Sousa, a dual U.S.-Portuguese citizen detained last week, was already at Lisbon airport to be flown to Italy when the news came through, following a partial pardon granted by the Italian president on Tuesday.

"She was in the airport this morning to be handed over to Italy, but is no longer there ... She is at the Judiciary Police in Lisbon now, but will be released today," de Sousa's lawyer, Manuel Magalhaes e Silva, told Reuters.

"The Milan prosecutor revoked the detention order. The Italian Interpol agents who are here to extradite her have been informed and the extradition is no longer happening."

De Sousa is one of 26 people convicted in absentia over the abduction of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr from a Milan street in 2003.

He was taken to Egypt for questioning under the U.S. "extraordinary rendition" program, part of then-President George W. Bush's "war on terror". De Sousa has always maintained her innocence, saying she was outside of Milan in the mountains on the day of the abduction.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Tuesday gave de Sousa a partial pardon, reducing her sentence to three years from four meaning that she could apply for alternative sanctions to prison.

De Sousa had been optimistic that the extradition would be halted after she asked the new White House administration for help, her lawyer said. The U.S. State Department has been in touch with her and followed the case closely, officials say.

The lawyer said De Sousa is likely to be allowed to serve three years of community service which, under European Union rules, she can do in Portugal.

De Sousa, who left the CIA in 2009, was held in Portugal in October 2015 at the request of Italian prosecutors. Her passports were confiscated, but she was quickly released. Several of her appeals against extradition failed last year.

[Source: Reuters, By Andrei Khalip, Lisbon, 01Mar17]

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small logoThis document has been published on 02Mar17 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.