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Italian Court Convicts CIA Kidnappers

February 1, 2013 

Italian Court Convicts 3 Americans in 2003 CIA Kidnapping

Head of CIA Kidnapping Ring Lives Openly in Santa Monica - Refuses to Talk to Press

February 1, 2013 (AP and press reports)

A Milan appeals court on Friday vacated acquittals for a former CIA station chief and two other Americans, and instead convicted them in the 2003 abduction of an Egyptian terror suspect from a Milan street as part of the CIA's extraordinary rendition program.

The decision means that all 26 Americans tried in absentia for the abduction now have been found guilty.  The ongoing trials, which have dragged on for years, brought the first convictions anywhere in the world against CIA agents involved in kidnappings that led to torture.

An appeals court sentenced former CIA Rome station chief Jeffrey Castelli to seven years, and handed sentences of six years each to Americans Betnie Medero and Ralph Russomando. A lower court, while convicting 23 other Americans in November 2009, had acquitted the three, citing diplomatic immunity.

Italy's highest court last year upheld the convictions of the 23 other Americans in absentia in the abduction of an Egyptian terror suspect Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, on Feb. 17, 2003. Nasr was transferred to U.S. military bases in Italy, then Germany, before being flown to Egypt, where he alleges he was tortured. He has since been released.

Abu Omar

Those convicted in the original trial included the former Milan CIA station chief, Robert Seldon Lady, whose original seven-year sentence was raised to nine years by Italy's high court. The other 22 Americans, all but one identified by prosecutors as CIA agents, also saw their sentences stiffened on the final appeal, from five to seven years. The high court ruling marked their final appeal.

Last year an Italian court upheld the convictions of 23 CIA agents over the same incident and ordered new appeals trials for five Italian intelligence agents, including Italy's top two former military intelligence officers, Nicola Pollari and his ex-deputy Marco Mancini.

The Italian Supreme Court ordered the 23 CIA agents to pay one million Euros in damages to Abu Omar and 500,000 Euros to his wife.

Jeffrey W. Castelli, the former CIA station chief, now lives in Santa Monica, California, and has apublished listing in the White Pages at 827 12thStreet. 

Jeffrey W. Castelli is listed in the White Pages as living in this apartment house at 827 12th Street in Santa Monica, California. 
(Photo: Google Maps)

I called Castelli, executive vice president of a Los Angeles-based CIA company called PhaseOne Communications, to ask for his comments on the conviction.  His wife Jennifer answered the phone and said that Jeff was not willing to discuss the case or his conviction.  “Take me off your list,” Mrs. Castelli said.  

The convicted head of the kidnapping ring, Jeff Castelli, now lives in Santa Monica and works as executive vice president for a CIA communications/ad company called PhaseOne.


Profile:  Jeff Castelli, History Commons

Profile: PhaseOne Communications, Employer of Jeff Castelli, History Commons

White Pages, listing for Jeffrey W. Castelli, Santa Monica, California

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