A former CIA officer appears set to be extradited to Italy over allegations about her role in the kidnapping and “extraordinary rendition” of an Egyptian man during the George W. Bush administration.
Sabrina de Sousa told news outlets on Wednesday that the extradition process has already begun after the constitutional court in Portugal rejected her final appeal.
If the process is finalized, she would become the first person to ever be charged, extradited and jailed over the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program, which was carried out under the Bush administration to seize suspected terrorists and bring them to another country for interrogation.
In 2014, de Sousa was convicted in absentia by an Italian court for participating in the 2003 abduction of Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr off a street in Milan and ferrying him to be questioned in Egypt. According to his wife and Italian prosecutors, the cleric, also known as Abu Omar, was subjected to beatings and electric shocks to his genitals.
De Sousa, a former Washington resident, has repeatedly insisted that she did not participate in the 2003 kidnapping, which occurred while she was working under diplomatic cover in Milan.
Twenty-five other people were also convicted in the case, many of them alleged CIA employees, though at least one of them has since been pardoned.
De Sousa was arrested in Portugal in October on orders from Italian police. She is a dual American-Portuguese citizen.
On Wednesday, she sent a letter to Pope Francis asking him to intervene in the case.
“I was never notified [of the Italian conviction] nor was I allowed to defend myself because of secrecy obligations,” she wrote in the letter, copies of which were obtained by The Associated Press and Reuters. “The absence of due process and the imposition of various versions of state secrets are obstacles that prevent the many unanswered questions about the premise and justification for Abu Omar’s rendition."
"Italy has guaranteed Portugal that I will be notified of my sentence and have the opportunity to counter the charges against me," she added. "Whether that happens, remains to be seen."
The CIA declined to comment.
--This report was updated at 12:30 p.m.