First, last Wednesday, Marco Mancini, the head of counterintelligence at SISMI, the Italian military intelligence agency, was arrested for allegedly abetting the CIA’s 2003 kidnap and rendition to Egypt of Muslim cleric Hassan Nasr. Before Berlusconi lost power earlier this year, the Italian government had denied any involvement in the case. See this BTC News report from last December for more background.
Later on Wednesday, Italian investigators uncovered what may be an extensive illegal domestic espionage program when they raided a previously-undisclosed SISMI office in an 11-room penthouse apartment in Rome and found a “massive secret archive” consisting of dossiers on Italian judges, journalists, prosecutors, and others whom Berlusconi considered to be enemies. Police were still hauling out files and computer discs on Thursday.
Among the journalists who were being spied on was Giuseppe D’Avanzo, who has written articles accusing SISMI of being involved in both the kidnapping of Nasr and the Iraq/Niger yellowcake forgery.
In my earlier report, I speculated that the U.S. had asked Italy not to proceed with the Italian prosecutor’s effort to have the CIA and military officers involved in the kidnapping extradited from the U.S. On April 12 of this year, two days after Berlusconi lost the election, Berlusconi’s justice minister killed the extradition request. The prosecutor has stated that he intends to re-file the request with the new government.
Update: Renato Farina, a right-wing Italian journalist whose office was raided on Wednesday by investigators looking into his ties to SISMI, has in the past, according to Laura Rozen, helped spread disinformation that France was responsible for the Niger forgeries.