Italy's former military intelligence chief has been sentenced to ten years in prison for his role in the kidnap of an Egyptian Muslim cleric in an operation organised by the US.

A former CIA station chief was earlier this month sentenced in absentia to seven years in jail after imam Abu Omar was snatched from a Milan street in 2003 and flown to Egypt for interrogation.

The Milan appeals court sentenced Nicolo Pollari, former head of the Sismi military intelligence agency, to ten years in prison and his former deputy Marco Mancini to nine years.

The court also awarded a provisional €1m in damages to the imam, the Ansa news wire reported, as well as €500,000 to the imam's wife.

Nicola Madia, a lawyer for Mr Pollari, said he was disturbed by the decision and that his client would appeal to Italy's highest court.

Mr Pollari will not have to go to jail until the appeals process has been exhausted.

Ms Madia said Mr Pollari had not been able to defend himself properly because successive Italian governments had declared the case to be covered by state secrecy laws.

The sentences are part of the fallout from a campaign waged by then US president George W Bush after the 11 September, 2001 attacks on the US.

Abu Omar said he was tortured for seven months after being flown to Egypt in what was known as an "extraordinary rendition" operation. He was resident in Italy at the time of his abduction.

Former CIA Rome station chief Jeffrey Castelli and two other US officials were convicted in their absence by the Milan appeals court for their part in the plot, but are unlikely to serve their sentences.

Human rights groups have been fighting to expose heavy-handed tactics used by the CIA during the Bush administration.