Sergio Mattarella, the Italian president, has partially pardoned Sabrina de Sousa, a former CIA officer convicted of participating in a Bush-era extraordinary rendition in Milan, allowing her to avoid jail time and defusing a possible diplomatic standoff with the Trump administration.

The move by Mr Mattarella came as Ms De Sousa, 61, was preparing to land in Italy after the failure of her efforts to fight extradition from Portugal, where she has family and has been living for more than a year .

Ms De Sousa had 4 years left of her Italian jail sentence but Mr Mattarella cut it to three. The Italian presidency said this would allow her to seek alternative ways of carrying out her sentence, thereby avoiding a term in prison.

Had she been jailed, Ms De Sousa would have been the only to do so of 23 people convicted of participating in the kidnapping of Abu Omar, an Egyptian cleric, in 2003 from the streets of Milan .

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