By AIDAN LEWIS, Associated Press Writer
ROME - An Italian judge on Friday ordered the arrests of 13 CIA officers for secretly transporting a Muslim preacher from Italy to Egypt as part of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts - a rare public objection to the practice by a close American ally.
The Egyptian was spirited away in 2003, purportedly as part of the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program in which terror suspects are transferred to third countries without court approval, subjecting them to possible torture.
The arrest warrants were announced Friday by the Milan prosecutor's office, which has called the disappearance a kidnapping and a blow to a terrorism investigation in Italy. The office said the imam was believed to belong to an Islamic terrorist group.
The 13 are accused of seizing Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, known as Abu Omar, on a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003, and sending him to Egypt, where he reportedly was tortured, Milan prosecutor Manlio Claudio Minale said in a statement.
The U.S. Embassy in Rome and the CIA in Washington declined to comment.