Published: Fri, May 11, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

May apology to Libya rendition victim as United Kingdom settles £500k case

May apology to Libya rendition victim as United Kingdom settles £500k case

Britain acknowledged Thursday that its intelligence agents played a role in the kidnapping and torture of an opponent of the late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi - a rare admission of wrongdoing by British spies.

As part of their case against the Government, the couple brought claims against former foreign secretary Jack Straw, former MI6 boss Sir Mark Allen and various government departments and agencies.

The Prime Minister wrote: "The UK Government's actions contributed to your detention, rendition and suffering".

Theresa May formally apologised to Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar for the British government's role in their "detention, rendition and suffering" in 2004 as part of an out of court settlement today.

"We are profoundly sorry for the ordeal that you both suffered and our role in it", Jeremy Wright, the attorney general, said in a letter read out to the House of Commons, the lower chamber of the U.K. Parliament.

Papers that came to light during the Libyan revolution in 2011 revealed that United Kingdom intelligence officials had tipped off the Libyan government as to their location, resulting in in their arrest, torture and Belhaj's six year imprisonment.

Mr Wright replied that he and Mr Leigh had over the years often criticised the Blair Government but that his goal now was to "resolve the individual case which I have reported to the House". Now, at last, justice has been done.

In an earlier statement, he argued Britain had "set an example for other nations to follow".

The Government's decision to settle the case comes weeks after a judge in pre-trial hearings ordered the Metropolitan Police to hand over to Mr Belhaj's lawyers' evidence accumulated in a criminal investigation that supported his case. Mr Belhaj will receive the apology immediately afterward at a separate ceremony in Istanbul.

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Following the announcement, which Boudchar attended with her son in London, she thanked the British government for their apology.

"On behalf of Her Majesty's Government, I apologise unreservedly".

"Today is a historic day, not just for myself and my wife".

"By today's settlement, I look forward to rebuilding my life with dignity and honour, and living free from the weight of these events with my husband and our five handsome children". "It is basically the most broad and comprehensive apology ever given in a case", Cori Crider, who represented the Libyan family, said. "What does it mean for someone to be elevated and honoured, someone who oversaw a secret prison in Thailand where torture was being practiced?"

The documents included a fax apparently sent by MI6, Britain's foreign intelligence agency, to the Libyan intelligence services in March 2004, giving information about the couple's then whereabouts in Malaysia.

Straw, who was foreign secretary at the time in the government of Tony Blair, said he had always acted in line with British and global law.

Belhaj and Saadi were released from jail in Tripoli in 2010 under a reconciliation deal arranged by Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam.

Rendition - defined as the practice of covertly taking a suspect to be interrogated in a country with less rigorous regulations for the humane treatment of prisoners - was widely used in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

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