Italian president Giorgio Napolitano [official biography] on Friday pardoned [press release, in Italian] US Air Force Colonel Joseph Romano of his conviction related to the US Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) [official website] abduction and extraordinary rendition of Egyptian cleric and terror suspect Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr. Joseph Romano was security chief of northern Italy's Aviano air base where Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was abducted prior to being flown to Egypt [AP report]. Nasr was seized on the streets of Milan in 2003 by CIA agents with the help of Italian operatives, then allegedly transferred to Egypt and tortured by Egypt's State Security Intelligence before being released [JURIST reports] in February 2007. The US Department of Defense on Saturday welcomed [press release] the news of Napolitano's pardon.
The rendition of Nasr has resulted in several trials in Italy. In February, a Milan appeals court sentenced [JURIST report] Niccolo Pollari, the former Italian spy chief, to 10 years in prison for his role in the kidnapping of Nasr as part of the CIA's extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive] program. Earlier that week a Milan appeals court convicted three Americans [JURIST report] for their role in Nasr's kidnapping and rendition. Due to diplomatic immunity, all three men had been acquitted in the original 2009 conviction 23 former CIA agents [JURIST report], including Romano. In September 2012 Italy's highest court upheld the convictions [JURIST report] of the 23 former CIA agents, whose sentences had been increased [JURIST report] in December 2010 by an Italian appeals court. The trial was the first in the world involving the CIA's extraordinary rendition flights.