Ex-CIA station chief in Milan detained in Panama
A former station chief with the CIA has been detained in Panama after being on the run from Italian police for more than a decade.
Robert Seldon Lady, 59, was reportedly brought into custody early Thursday after surfacing in the Central American country. An Italian court convicted him in 2009 in absentia of abducting an Egyptian terror suspect from the streets of Milan, and he was sentenced in early 2013 to nine years in prison. Only now, however, has he been caught, according to a statement made Thursday by the Italian justice ministry.
The case against Lady marked the first time ever that a CIA agent was accused of kidnapping and brought to trial. Twenty-two other Americans, mostly intelligence officers, were also convicted for their role in the “extraordinary rendition” of a Muslim cleric.
Lady was the station chief of the Central Intelligence Agency post in Milan during the time of the abduction. He is accused of abducting Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr and assisting in his years’ long detention which was reportedly accompanied with bouts of torture.
“I’m not guilty. I’m only responsible for carrying out orders that I received from my superiors,” Lady told Italy’s Il Giornale newspaper in 2009.
Previously, Lady told GQ magazine in a candid interview that, “When you work in intelligence, you do things in the country in which you work that are not legal.”
“It’s a life of illegality,” said Lady, “But state institutions in the whole world have professionals in my sector, and it’s up to us to do our duty.”
“I console myself by reminding myself that I was a soldier, that I was in a war against terrorism, that I couldn’t discuss orders given to me,” Lady said to Italian journalists.
Lady had served just shy of a quarter-century with the CIA at the time of the crime. He described his former employer to GQ years later as “the vanguard of democracy” and his role as “the greatest job I ever had.”