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Ex-CIA Spy Says She Is To Be Extradited To Italy To Serve Prison Sentence


The latest twist in the saga of a former CIA spy Sabrina de Sousa - de Sousa's case has kept lawyers in Italy, in Portugal and here in the U.S. busy for 13 years now.


It was back in 2003 that a man by the name of Abu Omar was snatched off the streets of Milan. He was imprisoned, interrogated and allegedly tortured as part of the CIA's extraordinary rendition program. No CIA officer has served prison time for their role in that program until, maybe, now.

KELLY: De Sousa was one of 26 Americans convicted by a court in Italy for her role in the kidnapping. She's been fighting extradition to Italy ever since. But her last appeal just failed. We reached her this morning in Lisbon, where she's now living.

And Sabrina de Sousa, what is your understanding of the timing of what happens next? Do you expect soon to be on a plane to Italy?

SABRINA DE SOUSA: I actually don't know. And that's the worrisome part because, as my attorney said, he's never dealt with a case like this before.

KELLY: When - when you and I last spoke - we have spoken before. NPR's been tracking your story. And when we last spoke, your hope was that your lawyers could keep throwing up roadblocks. Do you see any path to further appeal at this point?

DE SOUSA: No, it wasn't so much roadblocks. At the point, we were trying to clarify this position in Italy because it was a conflicting position between the ministry of - Italian Ministry of Justice that said, yes, it was a trial in absentia and I'm entitled to an appeal, and a prosecutor who says, no, I'm not entitled to appeal. I did want to go to Italy. I volunteered to go to Italy so that I could, you know, address the charges against me because, really, there is no evidence to support them. And I've been wanting to do this for years. And so, to me, it'd be very disappointing if, you know, no one allows me the chance to have that appeal.

KELLY: It sounds like a great deal of confusion with lawyers and courts in Portugal, where you are, and Italy, where you expect to be taken, and the U.S. all involved and all - trying to chart their way through this uncharted territory.

DE SOUSA: Yes, I don't know - I haven't heard anything from the U.S. Actually, the last - a couple weeks ago, you know, out of the blue, I got a call from the U.S. Embassy in Portugal. And they were asking me what the status was. So I don't know exactly what's going on.

KELLY: As you know, U.S. officials say that, A, you shouldn't have gone back to Europe when you knew there was a warrant outstanding there for your arrest and B, that there's only so much they can do when it comes to getting involved in the legal proceedings of other countries. What do you say to that?

DE SOUSA: You know, in 2014, I found I was not on a list of pardons that was put forth by, evidently, the U.S.

KELLY: This is a list that some other Americans have been pardoned.

DE SOUSA: Yes, there was a list that was put together. I heard from my Italian attorney I wasn't on it. And at that point, you know, I've got roots in Portugal. I'm - I was born Portuguese. All my family's over here as well. So I was seeing a future of never, ever, for the rest of my life, seeing my family in Portugal after I found that I was excluded from this list. Yes, so, yeah, I know I took a risk. And, yes, I'm - I'm fully aware of that. But the alternative was never seeing my family again over here.

KELLY: But are there decisions you've made that you wish you go back and undo?

DE SOUSA: (Laughter) Perhaps not go to Milan, maybe. You know, just leave after Rome...

KELLY: In the first place.

DE SOUSA: ...In the first place - leave after Rome. But things are as it is. And there's a reason for everything, I suppose. And this is what - this, you know, this is what it is.

KELLY: Thank you for talking to us.

DE SOUSA: Thank you.

KELLY: That is Sabrina de Sousa, former CIA officer, speaking from Lisbon, Portugal, where she is waiting for word on when she'll be flown to Italy to serve her prison sentence. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.