State Dept. loses round in CIA cover case
Sabrina De Sousa was listed as a diplomat at the U.S. Consulate in Milan when a CIA counter terrorism team picked up Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, a radical Egyptian imam also known as Abu Omar, and whisked him off to Egypt for interrogation.
De Sousa participated in the scheme as a CIA employee, according to Italian prosecutors and a Milan court, which convicted her and 22 other Americans, all but one CIA operatives, on kidnapping charges last year.
They were convicted in absentia and remain free, although they risk arrest on Europol warrants if they travel outside the U.S.
De Sousa had to defend herself at her own expense until she sued the Justice Department for support. She is now now suing the State Department for diplomatic immunity.
In his ruling Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo M. Urbina granted De Sousa’s motion to widen her complaint beyond the State Department to the Department of Justice, the CIA and three former CIA officials.
Urbina dismissed the State Department’s argument that DeSousa’s case was “futile.”
“Given the court’s inability to conclude at this juncture that the proposed amendment would be futile, and in light of the well-established policy of freely granting leave to amend when justice so requires, the court grants the plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend,” Urbina wrote.
“Furthermore, because the original complaint is now superseded by the amended complaint, the court denies as moot the defendants’ motion to dismiss the original complaint, without prejudice to consideration of a renewed motion to dismiss addressing the amended complaint.”
In late Dec. 2009, De Sousa filed papers saying three former CIA officials shared blame for her plight because of their sloppy security practices: Jeffrey Castelli, the spy agency's Rome station chief in 2003, Robert Seldon Lady, its Milan base chief, and Susan Czaska, listed as a "consulate official" in Milan.
Castelli did not respond to a request for comment at the time. Lady and Czaska could not be located. All three have left the CIA.
Urbina’s decision “brings together all the alleged and actual elements of the government that were involved in this,” said one of her attorneys, Bradley P. Moss of the Washington law firm Mark Zaid P.C. “These are the people who destroyed her career.“
"The lawsuit is designed to force the State Department to provide the protection Sabrina was deprived of when it failed to invoke diplomatic immunity for her when she was charged (and later convicted) in the Abu Omar case," Zaid last December.
| June 4, 2010; 7:45 PM ET
Categories: Intelligence, Justice/FBI, Lawandcourts
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