Abducted Egyptian Cleric Released
Salah Nasrawi, AP Writer
Attorney Montasser al-Zayat said Osama Hassan Mustafa Nasr, known as Abu Omar, was ordered freed Sunday by an
Al-Zayat said Nasr was released at a police station in the Mediterranean city of
"He was freed and he is now at his family home
Nasr was allegedly abducted from a
The security official said Nasr will remain in
Al-Zayat said the Egyptian court made the ruling after Nasr filed a lawsuit against the Interior Ministry accusing it of unlawful detention.
Italian prosecutors say Nasr was kidnapped on Feb. 17, 2003, by CIA agents with help from Italian agents, in a breach of Italian sovereignty.
According to Italian officials, the cleric fought in
No charges have ever been brought against Nasr. But Italian courts continued a preliminary hearing on Monday to decide whether to indict 26 Americans and five Italian intelligence officials on criminal charges in
Italian investigators said they believe the abduction was overseen by the CIA's station chief in
A trial would be the first criminal prosecution involving the CIA's extraordinary "rendition" program, in which terror suspects were secretly transferred for interrogation to third countries where critics say they may face torture.
Italian prosecutor Armando Spataro said Nasr's release would have little affect on the preliminary hearing, because in the Italian system the injured party cannot be called to testify at this stage.
But defense lawyer Guido Meroni, who is representing six American agents, said the release may help his clients as it may produce more definitive information on who was involved. He said evidence tying his clients to the abduction was circumstantial — including phone records and their presence at hotels in
Egyptian officials have not publicly acknowledged Nasr's abduction or his detention in