A request for legal pardon


Last Wednesday, September 11th, a former  CIA officer named Robert Seldon Lady (1) sent to the Italian President of the Republic, Mr. Giorgio Napolitano a formal request for legal pardon (2) for the consequences of an extraordinary rendition (3) operation held in Italy in the year 2003.

Mr. Lady, with more than twenty CIA agents and a number of Italian SISMI agents, was indicted  “in absentia” for the kidnapping of an Egyptian citizen, Mr. Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr (usually called Abu Omar). Later he was sentenced with other american officers, still “in absentia”. It was a CIA operation, held with the active cooperation of elements of Italian secret services. Mr. Abu Omar (4) was taken away from Italy, detained, tortured and interrogated from CIA agents in Egypt who were looking for terrorist plots in Europe; the main idea was about him as a recruiter for an Al-Quaeda linked organization.

The trial for the kidnapping of Mr. Abu Omar was key to set up a serious confrontation between Italian government and US federal administration;  for the first time after the end of WWII an Italian prosecutor, Mr. Armando Spataro, got a sentence against american agents for illegal activities in our country. Aside from Mr. Abu Omar the matters are about cover operations from intelligence agencies, the clash of competences between Italian justice and foreign jurisdictions and respect of the rights of Italian citizens (and the rights of people who are in our country as refugees).

A few weeks ago our President accorded the legal pardon to Mr. Joseph L. Romano (5), another american sentenced for this affair. Mr. Romano, still on duty as a colonel in the USAF, asked for grace in 2012 and the matter was widely contested in the italian media. His role was minor in respect of Mr. Lady, who was in charge for the whole covert operation. It’s now time to consider the letter sent from Mr. Lady, I strongly suggest to read it in order to understand what I will write after this paragraph. You may find the letter here [6].

Mr. Lady is an old-timer, a man used to the language and to the perils of diplomacy. In his letter he reminded his role as a consular officer, his own limits in the execution of superior orders, his love for Italy and all the dire consequences of being sentenced from an Italian legal court. Here and there he points the finger to the collaboration of italian and american agencies, the message is quite clear: you were involved in this operation just like CIA and you know that from the beginning, so what do you want from me?

Mr. Lady is right when he writes about the italian side of this dirty business;   Mr. Nicolò Pollari, former head general of SISMI (7) and his deputy director Mr. Marco Mancini have been sentenced  to  jail (ten years for the former, nine for the latter). So why have our President to accord his legal pardon to him? According to Italian laws Mr. Lady is a full-fledged criminal, there is no way out from that. Not even if the President of United States, Mr. Barack H. Obama, directly ask for it. The whole affair is a matter of confusion between Italy and USA, another bad page in a black book full of dark secrets.

Of course it’s up to our President alone to choose what to do, our laws are adamantine about that. What will not change, legal pardon or not, it’s the damage done. Justice has to be served in Italy as it happen in the USA, without the full respect of National and International laws there’s no such thing as a democracy.


[1] Who’s Robert S. Lady? Find it here (from Wikipedia).

[2] According to our legal system the President of the Republic is the only authority entitled to give a legal pardon, it happens only in very specific situations.

[3] What is an extraordinary rendition? Find it here (from Wikipedia).

[4] Who’s Abu Omar? Find it here (from Wikipedia).

[5] Who’s Joseph L. Romano? Find it here (from Wikipedia).

[6] The letter sent from Robert S. Lady to President Napolitano, here.

[7] What’s SISMI? Find it here (from Wikipedia).

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