PANAMA CITY: Panama’s Foreign Minister on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) defended his government’s handling of an Italian request for the arrest and extradition of a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) station chief wanted for the kidnapping of an Egyptian militant.
On Thursday, the Italian government announced that Robert Seldon Lady had been arrested in Panama on the border with Costa Rica and asked that he be held.
But the next day, the United States State Department said the former Milan CIA station chief was on his way back to Washington.
Explaining his government’s role in the affair, Foreign Minister Fernando Nunez claimed there was no evidence that Lady had ever been detained in Panama.
“We called all the checkpoints on the border and this person wasn’t at any of them,” he said.
He acknowledged that the Italian government had contacted the Panamanian foreign ministry to request Lady’s arrest but had failed to write it in Spanish.
Moreover, he said, “The reason that the arrest of this person is being requested has to be clear.”
Nunez’s account contradicted that of Panamanian Security Minister Jose Mulino who told the newspaper La Prensa that Lady had been detained on July 17 on the border.
Mulino said Lady was released “because the state that required him for extradition did not formalize the request.”