Trump telephone
Trump's administration was credited with helping Sabrina de Sousa Reuters

A former CIA spy has credited US President Donald Trump's administration with sparing her from serving jail time in Italy.

Sabrina de Sousa, 60, was pardoned shortly before she was due to be transferred from her native Portugal to Italy over the CIA kidnapping of a terror suspect from Milan.

De Sousa, who has dual Portuguese/American citizenship, was convicted in absentia in 2003 over the case, which saw Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr kidnapped by the CIA in Italy.

Despite denying she was involved in the case, de Sousa and 26 other people were found guilty by an Italian court – with de Sousa the only person to spend time in prison for the crime.

The former spy attempted to fight the charges in 2015, flying from the US to Portugal to do so – but was arrested, with the threat of being sent to an Italian prison hanging over her until now.

And facing extradition, de Sousa said the Trump administration had helped her in a way that former president Barack Obama's government had failed to do.

Speaking to Reuters, de Sousa said: "This administration has been absolutely awesome ... If the Trump administration didn't say anything, didn't do anything, I'm very confident I'd be in an Italian jail."

The former spy is planning to release a book on her fight against the charges, and said she will detail how she was poorly treated by the previous US administration.

"The disavowal policy by the Obama administration in my case has been very unfortunate, because it has wider implications for all those of us who are assigned to countries as State Department officers, officially," she explained to the news service.

De Sousa will now serve community service, after her four-year sentence was commuted, although it is not clear whether she will have to serve it in Italy or will be allowed to perform the community service in Portugal.