Muslim cleric Hassan Mustafa Omar Nasr was snatched on a Milan street in February 2003, and emerged from an Egyptian prison four years later claiming he had been tortured.
Robert S. Lady, who had been the CIA Milan station chief at the time, was later convicted in absentia of kidnapping, along with 21 other U.S. intelligence personnel and contractors. Lady was sentenced to nine years in prison and became a fugitive from Italian justice last December, when his conviction was confirmed by an appeals court.
Italian Justice Minister Annamaria Cancellieri has signed a request for Lady to be detained provisionally in Panama and Italy has two months to file a formal extradition request, according to Italian newspaper Gazetta del Sud.
Panamanian Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino told the Associated Press that he was unaware of the detention. The CIA had no immediate comment.
The case was the first forensically documented case of rendition — the CIA’s practice of siezing suspected terrorists and transporting them to third countries.
The countries chosen as destinations often routinely employ torture, as in Egypt, and rendition has been condemned by human rights groups as a violation of international anti-torture treaties.