CAIRO: An Egyptian cleric who says he was kidnapped by the CIA in Italy and flown to Egypt for interrogation is considering a political career in his home country thanks to the fame the case has brought him.
Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, announced his political intentions in a wide-ranging interview with La Stampa newspaper in Italy, where 26 Americans are being tried in absentia for kidnapping him in 2003. The US citizens on trial include the CIA station chief in Milan and the head of the agency s Rome office.
I wasn t anybody. Today I m famous – Al Jazeera, the satellite television stations, the Arab media, Nasr said.
I ve become a national champion, a symbol of the resistance to America s excessive power. The people and the Muslims, the Muslim Brotherhood, have given me their support.
Nasr faces an arrest order in Italy on suspicion of terrorist activity. He was under investigation in February 2003, when prosecutors say a CIA-led team grabbed him off a Milan street, bundled him into a van and flew him to Egypt.
There, Nasr alleges he was tortured under interrogation with electric shocks, beatings and genital abuse. He was freed in February and is still living in Egypt.
In the interview, Nasr said his heroes included Cuban revolutionary hero Ernesto Che Guevara, and compared women to jewelry to be protected instead of working in politics.
Asked about his political platform as a candidate, Nasr said he would focus on international relations.
I know the West. I lived in Italy. The Egyptians know I am an enemy of the United States. The Muslims respect me and dialogue with me, he said.