Italian Supreme Court upholds guilty verdict against 23 Americans
September 20, 2012 -- Updated 0108 GMT (0908 HKT)
The case against the CIA centered on the agency's alleged extraordinary rendition of cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr.
- NEW: "American officials would be wise to heed the Italian court's message," ACLU says
- They were found guilty of kidnapping terrorist suspect Abu Omar in 2003 in Milan
- Abu Omar claimed the Americans transferred him to Egypt for torture
- None of the Americans appeared at trial, and extradition has not been requested
Rome (CNN) -- The Italian Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the 2009 convictions of 23 Americans whom a lower court convicted in absentia of kidnapping a terrorist suspect in Milan in 2003.
It's unlikely the court ruling will have much effect on the lives of any of the Americans. None of them appeared at the original 2009 trial, nor were any of them taken into custody, and the Italian government did not ask for their extradition.
The CIA declined to comment on the ruling Wednesday.
The trial was the first to deal with a practice that human rights groups call "extraordinary rendition." They say the United States has often transferred terrorism suspects to countries that practice torture.
Washington has acknowledged making secret "rendition" transfers of terrorism suspects between countries but denies using torture or handing suspects over to countries that do.
The case centered on the alleged extraordinary rendition of a Muslim cleric, Osama Mustafa Hassan Nasr, or Abu Omar, who said he was seized on the streets of Milan in 2003 and then transferred to Egypt and tortured.
2005: Italy seeks Americans over abduction, source says.
Abu Omar was suspected of recruiting men to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan and was under heavy surveillance by Italy's intelligence agency.
Prosecutors said he was nabbed by a CIA team working with Italian intelligence officials.
"Today's ruling highlights the lack of accountability in the U.S. courts for serious crimes committed by government officials in the name of national security, such as kidnapping and torture," said Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU Human Rights Program. "U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks showed that Washington tried to derail the Italian investigation instead of supporting the interests of justice. Though legal questions remain, such as the validity of trials in absentia, American officials would be wise to heed the Italian court's message that those who violate the law will be called to answer."
In the 2009 trial, the Italian court sentenced 22 of the Americans to five years in prison each for their role in the abduction. Prosecutor Armando Spataro said Robert Seldon Lady, who prosecutors say was the CIA station chief in Milan, was sentenced to eight years.
Each of the 23 Americans was ordered to pay 1 million euros (about $1.3 million) to Abu Omar, plus 500,000 euros to his wife.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.