Ex-CIA officer Sabrina De Sousa, convicted in an Italian court in absentia for her role in the extraordinary rendition of Egyptian cleric Osama Hassan Mustafa Nasr (also known as Abu Omar), had her sentence partially commuted by order of Italian President Sergio Mattarella. After announcing that De Souza’s sentence had been commuted by a year, from four years to three, the Italian government announced on March 1, 2017 that they would no longer seek extradition of De Souza, thereby allowing for her release.
De Souza, who was born in India holds both U.S. and Portuguese citizenship, was arrested and detained by Portuguese authorities as she was attempting to return to India to visit her ailing mother. Though she denied involvement in the plot, De Souza was one of 23 Americans convicted in absentia for the kidnapping of Abu Omar on a street in Milan on February 17, 2003. De Souza, whose sentence had initially been set for seven years before being reduced to four, had been in a battle over her extradition to Italy for several years.
In announcing the commutation, President Mattarella stated he had based his decision on “the attitude of the sentenced party, the fact that the United States has discontinued the practice of extraordinary renditions and the need to weigh up the penalty with that of others convicted of the same offenses.” Abu Omar, in a telephone interview with Adnkronos Internation, stated he was “satisfied” with President Mattarella’s decision, and that “De Sousa has suffered enough.”
The act of imprisoning De Sousa for an act committed while acting in an official capacity as an agent of the United States would likely have strained the relationship between the U.S. and Italy in a time of great uncertainty regarding the strength of the U.S.’ commitment to its European allies.