In what could be an indication of the US’s support to Indian community, the Trump White House is coming to the to rescue an Indian-origin CIA agent who is being extradited from Portugal to Italy following a conviction for her role in kidnapping an Egyptian cleric resulting in another flashpoint in the growing rift between the United States and the European Union.
Sabrina de Sousa, who was born in Goa and grew up in Mumbai before emigrating first to Portugal and then to the US, was detained in Lisbon on Monday night, in a case that has dragged on for nearly a decade.
According to a report, Portugal wants to comply with the Italian request for her extradition, following an European arrest warrant, for her alleged role in the 2003 kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric as part of a secret United States rendition program during the Bush administration.
De Sousa (60), says at the time Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was kidnapped from the streets of Milan in February 2003, she was actually on a skiing trip with her son in Northern Italy. Nasr was taken to a military base and then moved to Egypt where he was allegedly tortured even as an Italian court convicted him on terrorism-related charges.
But in 2009, another Italian court sentenced 26 Americans, including de Sousa, in absentia of kidnapping and other charges related to the abduction. Most have since been pardoned and not one has done time in prison, but a dual citizenship appears to have put Sousa in European crosshairs.
In October 2015, she was detained at Lisbon’s airport on a European arrest warrant while attempting to travel to India, where she still has family. She was later released but ordered to remain in Portugal.
On Monday, she was detained for extradition to Italy after Rome press for compliance on an European warrant, even as the Trump administration expressed disappointment and said it would intervene in the matter.
“The US government’s view is that this [conviction] was a violation of her diplomatic status,” a Senior administration official told Fox News, adding, ”We’re very concerned and following the case closely… the highest levels of our government are trying to intervene on her behalf.”
The case will test the Trump administration’s resolve against the EU in the light of the President’s well-known skepticism of Washington’s European allies, both in the form of Nato and EU. Domestically too, the President evokes divided feeling in the intelligence community.