Judge or­ders Britain to hand over secret re­port into Libyan’s tor­ture

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A judge has or­dered the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment to hand over a 400-page po­lice re­port into the al­leged role of a se­nior in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer in the ab­duc­tion and tor­ture of a promi­nent Libyan dis­si­dent, lawyers said yes­ter­day.

Lon­don’s High Court said the gov­ern­ment had two weeks to hand over the 400-page dossier to the le­gal team for Ab­dul Hakim Bel­haj, who is seek­ing an apol­ogy from the UK af­ter he was snatched and re­turned to Libya in 2004.

Mr Bel­haj and his wife, Fa­tima Boud­char, say they were de­tained by the CIA in Thai­land af­ter a tip-off from the Bri­tish in­tel­li­gence ser­vice MI6.

They say masked CIA of­fi­cers strapped them to stretch­ers and put them on a plane bound for Libya.

While in Libya, the regime of the for­mer Libyan dic­ta­tor Muam­mar Qaddafi de­tained Mr Bel­haj, a leader of the hard­line Libyan Is­lamic Fight­ing Group, for six years.

Mr Bel­haj said he was tor­tured dur­ing his time in de­ten­tion and in­ter­ro­gated by Bri­tish in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cers who would have known what was go­ing on. His preg­nant wife was held for five months.

Britain’s role emerged when a let­ter was found af­ter the down­fall of the Qaddafi regime.

In it, Bri­tish in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer, Mark Allen, con­grat­u­lated a Libyan agent over the suc­cess­ful ren­di­tion of Mr Bel­haj.

“This was the least we could do for you and for Libya to demon­strate the re­mark­able re­la­tion­ship we have built over re­cent years,” said the let­ter, which con­firmed that the UK sup­plied the in­tel­li­gence against Mr Bel­haj.

Mr Bel­haj’s lawyers want the po­lice file for their long-awaited case seek­ing an apol­ogy and a to­ken sum from the UK gov­ern­ment for his treat­ment.

Ear­lier, the UK gov­ern­ment had suc­cess­fully ar­gued that the re­port should be kept secret for na­tional se­cu­rity rea­sons.

His le­gal team is also seek­ing a re­view of the de­ci­sion not to pros­e­cute Mark Allen for mis­con­duct.

The re­port was com­piled by Scot­land Yard af­ter al­le­ga­tions emerged of Bri­tish in­volve­ment in the tor­ture of Qaddafi’s op­po­nents. It was passed to pros­e­cu­tors but they de­cided in June 2016 not to pros­e­cute Mr Allen.

“Piece by piece the gov­ern­ment’s at­tempt to with­hold ev­i­dence is crum­bling,” said Cori Crider, the cou­ple’s lawyer at rights’ group Re­prieve.

“This thor­ough po­lice re­port will be im­por­tant ev­i­dence of MI6’s in­volve­ment in il­le­gal tor­ture and ren­di­tion.”

The UK gov­ern­ment is ex­pected to seek safe­guards over the pub­lic re­lease of the de­tails in the po­lice file, Re­prieve said.

The Bri­tish For­eign Of­fice did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

AP

Ab­dul Hakim Bel­haj, cen­tre, the rebel mil­i­tary com­man­der is su­ing the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment over his de­ten­tion in Thai­land

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