PANAMA CITY — A former CIA base chief convicted in the 2003 abduction of a terror suspect from an Italian street has been detained in Panama after Italy requested his arrest in one of the most notorious episodes of the U.S. program known as extraordinary rendition, Italian and Panamanian officials said Thursday.

Robert Seldon Lady, the former CIA chief in Milan, was detained after he entered Panama and unsuccessfully tried to cross the border into Costa Rica, according to an Italian official familiar with Italy's investigation of the rendition of Cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the case.

A Panamanian National Police official said Lady, 59, had been detained yesterday on the Costa Rica-Panama border.

Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was abducted in February 2003 and transferred to U.S. military bases, first in Italy then Germany, before being flown to Egypt. He alleged he was tortured in Egypt before being released.

Italy conducted an aggressive investigation and charged a series of CIA and other U.S. government employees, despite objections from Washington, in a case that led to the first convictions of agents involved in the CIA's extraordinary rendition program

Lady was sentenced to nine years in prison by an Italian appeals court in Milan this after being tried in absentia.