SAN JOSE, Costa Rica —
“We’re in a moment of extremely close relations with the United States. Panama is granting all of the favors that Washington requests,” political analyst Mario Rognoni said. “The DEA, CIA and other security agencies are here telling Panama what to do on its territory and along its borders.
“It makes sense that they would send him (Seldon) to the U.S. instead of Italy. I reiterate: they’re doing everything that the United States asks.”
The extraordinary rendition case caused tensions between Rome and Washington, two traditional allies. In April, Italy’s president, Giorgio Napolitano, pardoned a U.S. Air Force colonel convicted in the rendition case, a move Napolitano hoped would keep American-Italian relations strong, especially on security matters.
Napolitano said he granted the pardon in hopes of resolving an affair that the United States considered unprecedented because a U.S. military officer for NATO had been convicted for deeds committed on Italian territory.
The colonel, Joseph Romano, was security chief of the Aviano air base in northern Italy, where Nasr was taken on his way to Egypt.
In issuing the pardon, Napolitano’s office said the president had taken into consideration that Obama, immediately after his election, had ended the George W. Bush administration’s anti-terror practices that both Italy and the European Union considered to be “not compatible with fundamental principles of rule of law.”
Seldon Lady, who was born in Honduras, left Italy early into the Italian investigation of the abduction. He also retired from the CIA. Interpol had issued a request for Seldon Lady’s arrest, reflecting Italy’s determination to get him back.
“U.S. officials who have thus far evaded any accountability for their role in a global torture program should take today’s development as a warning sign,” the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which has fought U.S. counter-terror programs such as extraordinary renditions and detention at Guantanamo Bay, said in an emailed statement.