Following up on this Gawker post from earlier this morning, anyone keeping an eye on the pursuit of Edward Snowden may find this interesting.

From WaPo (a horrible paper, but once in a while it's worth checking):

A former CIA operative detained in Panama this week at the request of Italian authorities over his conviction in the 2003 kidnapping of Muslim cleric in Milan was released on Friday morning and was aboard a flight to the United States, U.S. officials said.


Robert Seldon Lady’s release from Panama appeared to avert the possibility that he would be extradited to Italy, where he faces a sentence of up to nine years in prison for his role in the CIA capture of a terrorism suspect who was secretly snatched off a street in Milan and transported to Egypt.

“It’s our understanding that he’s on a plane en route to the United States right now,” a senior Obama administration official said. It was not immediately clear what steps the United States had taken to secure Lady’s release.

The outcome brought a sudden close to a brief diplomatic drama that began Wednesday when Lady was detained by border officials as he entered Panama.


Lady was among 23 U.S. government employees — most of whom worked for the CIA — who were convicted in a 2005 case that became a source of embarrassment for the agency. The case also called attention to the controversial practice known as “extraordinary rendition,” in which terrorism suspects secretly captured in the years following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were delivered to governments suspected of engaging in torture.

Mario E. Jaramillo, the Panamanian ambassador in Washington, confirmed Friday that Lady “has been arrested in Panama.” He added in an e-mail, “Procedures for this kind of international detentions are being followed by Panama at this moment.” He could not be reached immediately for comment on the report of Lady’s release and return to the United States.

Lady and other defendants in the case left Italy before the trial but were convicted in absentia. The United States has pressured the Italian government to abandon its prosecution but has never formally acknowledged that many of the defendants were CIA employees.

Lady’s release comes at a delicate time for the Obama administration, which has been seeking to block attempts by Edward Snowden, a former U.S. intelligence contractor, to seek asylum in Latin America. Snowden has been charged with stealing and then leaking information about secret U.S. surveillance programs.