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I was tortured in cell after kidnap by CIA, says Muslim cleric

London Telegraph | November 10, 2006
Malcolm Moore

A Muslim cleric has claimed to have been tortured with electric shocks, left in a cell where rats crawled on him and threatened with rape after he was allegedly kidnapped from a Milan street by CIA agents three years ago.

The claims of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, appeared in an affidavit provided to Milan prosecutors investigating his alleged abduction in February 2003, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported yesterday.

Prosecutors say that the cleric, who was formerly suspected of links to terrorism, was driven to the Aviano military air base and flown via Germany to his native Egypt before being secretly interrogated for six months.

advertisementHis 11-page, hand-written prison diary, reported to be the basis of his affidavit, includes a series of claims which if true would reveal an extraordinary insight into the "rendition" process practised by intelligence services.

In the diary, Abu Omar tells of how he was grabbed by two Italians and bundled into a van in daylight. Subsequently he says he was flown to Egypt, thrown in a cell and tortured.

He wrote: "Here, they told me, the flies don't even come. When I asked for the toilet, they told me to go in my cell. There was an incredible stench. I remained there for six and a half months, at Amn El Dawla. The cell was without air, cockroaches and rats crawled over me. When the guard entered, I had to be on my knees or he would jolt me with an electric cattle prod."

Abu Omar is currently being held at a police station in Alexandria, Egypt. His allegations were reportedly smuggled out of the Egyptian prison and given to Milan prosecutors by an Egyptian contact in Milan. They contradict the version of events presented in the Rome parliament by the Italian military intelligence chief, Nicolo Pollari, who said the kidnapping had been "faked".

The diary will be used as evidence in a court hearing involving 35 spies, including 26 CIA agents, all believed to have since left Italy, who are accused by prosecutors of participating in the kidnapping by Italian prosecutors of kidnapping.

State investigators have also opened a separate inquiry into claims that Abu Omar was offered money on his return to Italy to keep quiet about his alleged ordeal.

The diary paints a vivid picture of the various forms of torture he claims to have suffered, resulted in him losing his hearing in one ear and his hair and beard turning white. "I write this testimony from the inside of this tomb. I am skinny, my illnesses are worse, I am in a critical condition.," he wrote. "To eat there was only stale bread, which was covered in sand which hurt the teeth.

"At the beginning, the guards stripped me nude and give me shocks with their cattle prods. One grabbed my private parts and mashed them when I would not talk. They stretched me over an iron gate, kicked me, attached electric wires to me and threw cold water over me.

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