Imagine: our own country kidnapping or abducting someone and transferring him or her to another country, usually one with lax torture laws. Sounds like something no democratic nation would ever do, yet the United States Central Intelligence Agency used to run a program that performed this very act, which is called extraordinary rendition. I believe this act should be punishable.

The practice began after the events of September 11th, 2001 with the intent of abducting terrorist suspects and moving them to CIA prisons in various countries for interrogation. Part of this program was the 2003 kidnapping of a radical cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, in the Italian city of Milan. He was kidnapped and taken to Egypt using US Military airbases in Italy and Germany where he claims to have been tortured. In 2009 an Italian court convicted 23 Americans in absentia for the kidnapping.

The Italian president, on February 28th granted Sabrina de Sousa, a former CIA operative, a partial pardon reducing her sentence from four years to three years. She was detained by Portuguese police on February 21, having moved to Portugal in 2015. She is protesting her detainment now that Italian police revoked the arrest warrant, which was the basis of the Italian extradition request.

The act by President Sergio Mattarella allows de Sousa to become eligible for alternatives to imprisonment under Italian law. I disagree with the decision of the Italian president. Her sentence was originally seven years reduced to four, and by reducing her prison sentence a second time he is letting her get away with the kidnapping of a private citizen who had been given political asylum. Extraordinary rendition is illegal under the United Nations Convention Against Torture which the Senate ratified as well as a 1998 federal statute. By commuting part of her sentence, President Mattarella is showing that he does not respect international law.

Julia Hall of Amnesty International sums up my opinion when she states “It is very worrying, and sends a clear message that you can engage in what amount to be crimes under international law – torture and enforced disappearance and get away with it.”. I believe in the rule of law and while de Sousa has since taken a public stance against the practice of extraordinary rendition, she should serve the full amount of time put forth by the Italian court system.

The idea of extraordinary rendition goes against the very basic principles of due process that is the basis of any true democratic nation and she should serve her time for her participation in the CIA run program. The basis of extraordinary rendition is to interrogate a person in a country with lenient laws regarding torture and other interrogation techniques. Why else would the U.S. government not follow international law or Italian law in questioning Abu Omar?

At its core, extraordinary rendition is an undemocratic practice that goes against international law, Italian law, and U.S. law. Sabrina de Sousa should be required to serve the full amount of time given by the Italian courts as her actions were against accepted international law as well as illegal under the laws of both the United States and Italy.


“Extraordinary Rendition.” American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU, Accessed 1 Mar. 2017.

“Italy Grants Partial Clemency to Former CIA Officer.” BBC News, BBC, 28 Feb. 2017, Accessed 1 Mar. 2017.

Povoledo, Elisabetta. “Italy Reduces Sentence for Ex-C.I.A. Officer Sought in Rendition Case.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 28 Feb. 2017, Accessed 1 Mar. 2017.