Judge orders Britain to hand over secret report into Libyan’s torture
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.
Abdul Hakim Belhaj, centre, the rebel military commander is suing the British government over his detention in Thailand