Sabrina De Sousa

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Sabrina De Sousa (born c. 1956, India, naturalized USA citizen, 1985) is a former undercover CIA field officer who used diplomatic cover.[1][2][3][4] She was convicted of kidnapping by an Italian Court for her alleged role in the extraordinary rendition of terror suspects.[5] She made international news in 2009 for suing the State Department in order to secure diplomatic immunity for her role in "Imam rapito affair", in an Italian court case.[6] In a July 27, 2013 interview, with the McClatchy News Service, she confirmed that she worked undercover for the CIA when the operation took place.[7] However, she maintains she played no role in the extraordinary rendition, was unaware of the plans, and was on a ski trip when it took place.[8]

De Sousa's role in the Imam Rapito affair[edit]

The underlying case is called the "Imam rapito affair", which involves "kidnapping charges in Italy for the seizure of a suspected terrorist."[9] Abu Omar, a Muslim cleric, was abducted on February 17, 2003, in Milan by the CIA.[10] and transported to the Aviano Air Base, from which he was transferred to Egypt, where he was interrogated (and allegedly tortured).[11] (Abu Omar is also known as Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr and Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr.) The CIA operation interrupted surveillance by Italian authorities into Nasr's participation in certain Islamic organizations.[citation needed] The Italian government originally denied having played any role in the abduction, but Italian prosecutors Armando Spataro and Ferdinand Enrico Pomarici indicted two dozen American and Italian government employees and agents.[12]

Italian authorities issued an arrest warrant in 2006 for De Sousa.[3] They named her publicly in July 2008.[13] She is not alleged to have kidnapped Omar herself, but is said to have "helped make false documents to mislead investigators."[14] She claims an alibi that she was "vacationing at a ski resort nearly 130 miles away in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy."[9]

De Sousa is alleged, by the Italian Judicial system (unique in Europe as being distinct from [and completely independent of] the Italian Government), to be an intelligence officer.[1][9][15] They claim that she is part of a "CIA network",[16] serving under diplomatic cover.[17] She claims to be a diplomat.[1][9] She was registered with the United States Embassy in Rome as "second secretary" but posted in Milan.[18] She was a State Department employee,[14] until she resigned in February 2009.[1]

She was convicted of kidnapping for her role in the Imam rapito affair on November 4, 2009 by an Italian court, after a trial in absentia and a plea of not guilty.[19][20]

De Sousa's lawsuit[edit]

De Sousa sued for a declaration that she is a diplomat with immunity from prosecution:

In the lawsuit filed Wednesday (May 2009) in federal court in Washington, Sabrina De Sousa wants diplomatic immunity and government-funded legal counsel in Italy. She claims she was a foreign service officer working in Milan and was not involved in the 2003 seizure of Muslim cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar. But Italian prosecutors say De Sousa, a 53-year-old India native, was a CIA officer[21] working under diplomatic cover and was one of four main U.S. officials responsible for coordinating Omar's capture from a Milan street in broad daylight on February 17, 2003.

—AP story[9]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d Scott Shane, "Woman in Rendition Case Sues for Immunity," New York Times, found at New York Times website. Accessed May 14, 2009.
  2. ^ the Left Coaster website. Accessed May 14, 2009.
  3. ^ a b de Gondi, "Via Nazionale 230," European Tribune, July 7, 2006, found at European Tribune website. Accessed May 14, 2009
  4. ^ Kevin Gosztola (2013-07-27). "Former CIA Officer & Whistleblower Sabrina De Sousa & the ‘Proper Channels’ Myth". Firedoglake. Archived from the original on 2013-07-29. Retrieved 2013-07-29. A major news story by Jonathan Landay of McClatchy features the first public comments from Sabrina De Sousa, a former CIA officer who has revealed details around the kidnapping of radical Islamist cleric Abu Omar in Italy in 2003. 
  5. ^ Rachael Donadio, 'Italy Convicts 23 Americans for C.I.A. Renditions', The New York Times, 4 November 2009.[1]
  6. ^ Ian Shapira (2012-07-12). "Kidnapping unravels a spy’s career". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2013-07-29. Retrieved 2013-07-29. At 56, Sabrina De Sousa’s life has come to be defined by a landmark criminal case that has been playing out in Italy for much of the past decade, ever since prosecutors began investigating the disappearance of an Egyptian cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar. 
  7. ^ Jonathon S. Landay (2013-07-27). "U.S. allowed Italian kidnap prosecution to shield higher-ups, ex-CIA officer says". McClatchy News Service. Archived from the original on 2013-07-29. 
  8. ^ Adrian Chen (2013-01-31). "A Discussion with Accused CIA Agent Sabrina De Sousa". Gawker. Retrieved 2013-07-29. However, she is unequivocal in asserting that she had no connection to Abu Omar's kidnapping. De Sousa didn't know Omar was being kidnapped that day in 2003, she says, and was on a ski trip in the Alps with her kids at the moment of the kidnapping. "This is a bit of scapegoatery" for an embarrassing and illegal CIA operation gone wrong, De Sousa says. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Nedra Pickler, "Lawsuit seeks diplomatic immunity in Italian case," Associated Press, slightly different versions found at Kansas City Star website, AOL New Zealand website, CBS website, and The Herald online. Accessed May 14, 2009.
  10. ^ Piano/Esteri/2005/11 Novembre/11/imam.shtml "Foto della Cia svela il sequestro dell'imam", Corriere della Sera, 12 novembre 2005.
  11. ^ "I pm di Milano: arrestate gli agenti della Cia", Corriere della Sera, 24 giugno 2005.
  12. ^ "Rapimento Abu Omar, a giudizio l'ex capo del Sismi Nicolò Pollari", La Repubblica, 16 febbraio 2007.
  13. ^ Jeff Stein, "Italian Police Name CIA Contacts in Kidnap Trial," Congressional Quarterly Politics, July 10, 2008, found at CQ Politics website. Accessed May 14, 2009.
  14. ^ a b Indy Bay website. Accessed May 14, 2009.
  15. ^ "DE SOUSA SABRINA". NameBase. Archived from the original on 2012-01-17. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  16. ^ State website, citing Information from the prosecutor's office (in Italian). Accessed May 14, 2009.
  17. ^ Security Law Brief, May 14, 2009, found at Security Law Brief website. Accessed May 14, 2009.
  18. ^ Stephen Grey, Ghost plane: the true story of the CIA torture program, p. 349, fn. 45, (Macmillan, 2006) ISBN 978-0-312-36023-8 found at Google Books. Accessed May 14, 2009.
  19. ^ Donadio, Rachel (November 4, 2009). "Italy Convicts 23 Americans for C.I.A. Renditions". The New York Times. Retrieved November 5, 2009. 
  20. ^ "Sabrina De Sousa, Ex-CIA Whistleblower, Blames Bush For Defamation (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. 2013-07-31. 
  21. ^