July 18, 2013, New York – Following news reports that the ex-CIA chief in Milan who was convicted in absentia in Italy for his role in the 2003 rendition-to-torture of “Abu Omar” has been detained in Panama, upon the request of the Italian Justice Minister, the Center for Constitutional Rights issues the following statement:
After years of fighting impunity for U.S. torture, the Center for Constitutional Rights welcomes reports that Panama has detained former CIA station chief Robert Seldon Lady in response to an international arrest warrant for his role in the “extraordinary rendition” of Abu Omar from Milan to Egypt. While the United States refuses to investigate or prosecute its own officials for torture and other serious breaches of domestic and international law, other countries like Italy have been willing to place the demands of justice above politics.
U.S. officials who have thus far evaded any accountability for their role in a global torture program should take today’s development as a warning sign. The U.S. must not exert the same pressure to block the extradition of Lady from Panama to Italy to face justice that it put on European countries earlier this month to ground Bolivian president Evo Morales’s plane when it believed whistleblower Edward Snowden could be on board. It is time for an end to impunity and the start of a new chapter of accountability for U.S. officials who committed torture.