Egyptian Says He Was Tortured After Being Kidnapped in Milan
ROME, Nov. 10 — A militant Egyptian cleric who prosecutors say was kidnapped by the Central Intelligence Agency said in a newly published account that he was tortured with electric shocks while he lay on a wet mattress in a Cairo prison and was repeatedly beaten and forced to eat rotten bread in a pitch-black cell, while rats and cockroaches ran over his body.
The cleric’s recounting was contained in an affidavit given to Italian prosecutors investigating his alleged abduction. Excerpts were published in a Milan daily newspaper, Corriere della Sera, on Thursday.
“I am writing my testimony from this, my tomb,” writes Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, at the start of an 11-page letter that was excerpted Thursday by the newspaper.
His face has been transformed, he claims, “as a result of the torture.” Milanese prosecutors have appended the account to the case they are building against 39 people, including 25 C.I.A. operatives. Prosecutors accuse them of abducting Mr. Nasr and sending him to Egypt for questioning, in the American practice of rendition.
Members of the Italian secret services, including Nicolo Pollari, the country’s top spy, are also under investigation in the kidnapping, which took place in Milan in February 2003. Earlier this year, an Italian military police officer confessed to having participated in the kidnapping, which he believed was jointly organized by the American and Italian intelligence services.
In the letter, Mr. Nasr says he was stopped by an American, asked for his documents and then forced into a white van where he was “beaten on my stomach and my entire body” before being bound and gagged and taken to Cairo by plane. In the Cairo prison, he says, he was subjected to weeks of torture while he was being interrogated.
“It lasted seven months,” he wrote, but “it felt like seven years.” His wife, Nabila, told Milanese prosecutors that Egyptian officials had tried to bribe her husband so he would deny that he had been kidnapped.
Writing from Egypt, she said that her husband had been offered $2 million “to say that he had not been kidnapped and to say that he had come of his own free will” to Egypt, the Milan newspaper reported Friday. Milanese prosecutors have asked that the United States extradite the 25 operatives they believe organized and executed the kidnapping