Italy Minister Blocks Pursuit of CIA Agents

Italy said Wednesday that it would not seek the extradition of 22 CIA agents accused of kidnapping a Muslim cleric in Milan and flying him to Egypt for interrogation.

Justice Minister Roberto Castelli said he would not forward to the United States the extradition request from Milan prosecutors. Castelli did not explain his decision but has suggested previously that the case was politically motivated.

Milan Prosecutor Armando Spataro has said a CIA team seized terrorism suspect Hassan Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, off a Milan street in 2003. Nasr was then flown to Egypt for questioning, according to prosecutors and court documents.

Spataro says evidence shows Nasr was tortured there.

He said he would resubmit the request to the incoming government of Romano Prodi.

The Council of Europe, meanwhile, said Wednesday that at least one European nation has admitted to handing over terrorism suspects to foreign agents.

Secretary-General Terry Davis refused to say which state and said it was up to national authorities or the European Court of Human Rights to take action.