Court Orders Six More Arrests in CIA Case

ROME -- In a further strain on Italian-U.S. relations, an appeals court in Milan on Monday issued arrest warrants for six more purported CIA operatives accused of helping plan the 2003 kidnapping of a radical Egyptian Muslim cleric, a court official said.

Last month, a lower court issued warrants for 13 alleged CIA operatives but turned down requests to arrest another six.

Prosecutor Armando Spataro appealed that ruling last week, and a three-judge panel in Milan overturned it Monday, the court official said.

Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, was allegedly snatched from a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003, taken to a joint U.S.-Italian air base in Aviano and then flown to Ramstein Air Base in Germany and on to Egypt, where he reportedly was tortured.

The Americas

* HAVANA -- Cuban authorities have freed 23 dissidents detained last week, a leading human rights activist said.

In all, 33 people were detained Friday. The dissidents had planned to attend a protest that day outside the French Embassy to press European nations to lobby on behalf of the island's political prisoners.

Among the 10 still jailed is Rene Gomez Manzano, the lawyer who organized a mass meeting of opposition members earlier this year, said Elizardo Sanchez of the nongovernmental Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation.

* BOGOTA, Colombia -- A Colombian farmers' group said the president's offer to buy peasants out of the coca business could backfire by prompting them to grow more of the illicit crop.

President Alvaro Uribe said on Saturday that his government would pay peasant farmers to surrender their coca, the leafy bush used to make cocaine.

"This would create confusion and provide an incentive to plant coca for the government to buy," said Rafael Mejia, chief of the Farmers' Society of Colombia, the Andean country's biggest agricultural lobbying group.

The middle east

* JERUSALEM -- Israel demanded that the Vatican explain why Pope Benedict XVI failed to mention a deadly Palestinian attack in a sermon voicing sympathy for nations struck by suicide bombers.

On Sunday, Benedict deplored the "death, destruction and suffering in countries including Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and Britain" and asked God to "stay the hands of assassins . . . driven on by fanaticism and hate."

Israel's Foreign Ministry said it summoned the Vatican ambassador to ask why the sermon had not mentioned a July 12 suicide bombing by the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad that killed five Israelis in Netanya. "The Pope's omission of this incident cries out to the heavens," the ministry said in a statement.

The Vatican said it was surprised at the reaction and accused Israel of deliberately twisting the pope's meaning.


* TBILISI, Georgia -- FBI agents hauled away boxes from the home of a man who has confessed to throwing a grenade during a May rally in Georgia's capital at which President Bush spoke.

Investigators have erected a tent outside Vladimir Arutyunian's home on the outskirts of Tbilisi and appeared to be using special equipment to examine the evidence, according to footage shown by Georgian Rustavi-2 television.

-- From News Services