SAN JOSE, Costa Rica —
Costa Rica sent Seldon Lady back across the border, where his passport didn’t trigger any alert when checked by Panamanian authorities, Quesada said. The retired CIA officer tried to cross back into Costa Rica again, where he was sent back for a second time. On his return to Panama, an Interpol alert was triggered and police detained him.
Costa Rican records show Seldon Lady entered Costa Rica in December 2012, but stayed in the country less than 24 hours.
“It’s just pretty astonishing that this hopeful moment for some accountability turned so quickly on its head,” said Katherine Gallagher, a senior attorney at the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which has fought against U.S. practices such as extraordinary rendition and detention of terrorism suspected at the Guantanamo Bay prison.
She said U.S. efforts to help Seldon Lady escape punishment in Italy opened the Obama administration to charges of hypocrisy when they are considered in light of a U.S. push to bring National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden back to the U.S. for trial. Attempts to get Snowden back have included an international push to persuade countries not to give Snowden asylum, or even let him cross their airspace on his way to a country that could let him avoid the U.S. justice system.
“We see a complete double standard here. The U.S. is saying it’s so important for Snowden to face charges in the U.S., where there is a great deal of debate over whether those charges are legitimate, as opposed to Lady, where there is a conviction for torture, a universally recognized crime,” Gallagher said.
Cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was hustled into a car in February 2003 on a street in Milan, where he preached, and transferred to U.S. military bases in Italy and Germany before being flown to Egypt. He alleged he was tortured in Egypt before being released.