Italy 'sacks' spy over CIA kidnap

Nov. 20, 2006

The Italian government has replaced its military intelligence chief amid an inquiry into his role in an alleged CIA abduction of an Egyptian, reports say.

The head of the country's civilian intelligence agency was also sacked, although he is not being investigated.

Nicolo Pollari is among several Italian agents facing an inquiry into the alleged kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric by the US agency in 2003.

He has denied any wrongdoing, but has yet to comment on the latest reports.

He was replaced by Admiral Bruno Branciforte after a special cabinet meeting, reports say.

The chief of the co-ordinating agency, Emilio del Mese, was also sacked as well as Gen Mario Mori - head of the civilian intelligence agency.

Neither of these two men are under investigation for the alleged abduction.

'Electric shocks'

Mr Hassan, also known as Abu Omar, is believed to have been abducted from a Milan street on 17 February 2003, and flown out of the country from Aviano air base north of Venice.

The cleric says he was taken to Egypt for interrogation, where he was tortured with electric shocks and detained under suspicion of having terrorist links.

The Italian government has said it had no prior knowledge of the kidnap plot. It has yet to respond to an extradition request for 26 US citizens named in the case.

Mr Hassan is believed to have arrived in Italy in 1997, where he was granted refugee status.

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