World News

UK Apologizes for 'Illegally' Returning Libyan Ex-Militant Leader to Tripoli

UK Apologizes for 'Illegally' Returning Libyan Ex-Militant Leader to Tripoli

Belhadj, who commanded an Islamist rebel group that helped topple Gaddafi in 2011 and is now a politician, says he and his pregnant wife Fatima were abducted by U.S. Central Intelligence Agency agents in Thailand in 2004 and then illegally transferred to Tripoli with the help of British spies.

The letter said: "It is clear that you were both subjected to appalling treatment and that you suffered greatly, not least to the dignity of Mrs Boudchar, who was pregnant at the time". Neither of you should have been treated in this way.

He was handed over to Central Intelligence Agency agents, acting on a tip-off from MI6, and flown via the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to Tripoli, because at the time Britain and the United States were keen to build relations with Gaddafi. The UK government's actions contributed to your detention, rendition and suffering.

Ms Boudchar and her son Abderrahim are due to attend the Attorney General's statement in Parliament, while Mr Belhaj will be holding a news conference in Istanbul shortly afterwards. "We should have understood much sooner the unacceptable practices of some of our worldwide partners and we sincerely regret our failures", the prime minister's statement also said.

I thank the British government for its apology and for inviting me and my son to the United Kingdom to hear it.

Martha Spurier, director of rights group Liberty, applauded the settlement, but highlighted that many other rendition cases were being ignored.

"The best that I think any government can do is to put in place the processes and practices that mean the right values are applied to the judgements that we have to take, including in what are very hard cases".




"A great society does not torture, does not help others to torture, and when it makes mistakes it accepts them and apologises", Mr Belhadj said.

The couple's battle for an apology and compensation, which lasted for six years, came to light after the success of the Libyan revolution in 2011, after which papers were released, showing the involvement of British intelligence in their kidnapping.

The British government tried to fight the claims in court but the supreme court past year gave the couple the right to sue the defendants.

"It is also important that we should act in line with our values and in accordance with the rule of law", Wright said in his statement.

Boudchar will receive £500,000 (570,000 euros, $670,000) compensation, but Belhaj did not seek any financial settlement, only an apology.

Mr Wright said no admissions of liability had been made by any of the defendants in the legal claims. "I accept the government's apology".

Mr Belhaj is now a politician in Libya.


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