Today’s chip paper; rendition victory overlooked

The “news cycle” is a weird and fickle thing. Tomorrow’s chip paper is still as apt a phrase today as it ever was – the gaze of the media does not linger long on any one topic. Such is the case with rendition stories.

Once upon a time the complicity of governments across Europe in the rendition of suspects in terrorism cases was front page news. These days it is a largely forgotten scandal. The media has tired of harping on about whether intelligence agencies were involved in the secret transfer of people from country to country at the behest of US agents, during the post 9/11 war on terror.

However, yesterday’s decision by Italy’s High Court to uphold convictions against 22 CIA agents and a US military official for the 2003 abduction of Egyptian national Usama Mostafa Hassan Nasr - known as Abu Omar – was a quiet but significant victory.

Usama Mostafa Hassan Nasr was transferred to Egypt where he was tortured. The Italian court also ruled that five senior Italian secret service agents, whose cases had previously been dismissed, should be tried for their role in the abduction.

At the height of rendition news coverage this would have been heralded as a departure from the status quo, an end to impunity. It is, and we heralded it as such. You can see this ongoing campaign from our EU office to “unlock the truth” and to expose European complicity in rendition. The Italian decision is a welcome one, but as is so often the case, when the hard fought progress finally came it was not with a bang, but a whimper.

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