UK

UK 'settles rendition case' with former Libyan dissident

Abdul-Hakim Belhaj in 2015 Image copyright Getty Images

The UK government has reached a settlement with former Libyan dissident Abdul Hakim Belhaj over a long-running rendition case, the BBC understands.

Mr Belhaj claims MI6 helped the US kidnap him in Thailand in 2004 to return him and his wife to Libya, where he says he was tortured.

The attorney general will make a statement in Parliament on Thursday.

The settlement terms are unknown but Mr Belhaj, 52, has previously demanded an apology and a token £1 in damages.

A leading opponent of the then Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, Mr Belhaj says he was abducted in Bangkok - along with his pregnant wife, Fatima Boudchar - while attempting to fly to London to claim UK asylum.

Mr Belhaj claims MI6 provided key intelligence in 2004 on his movements which ultimately led to the capture and rendition of him and his wife by the US to Libya.

Rendition is the process of sending a suspect for interrogation in another country where torture may be practised.

Now a politician in Libya, Mr Belhaj spent six years in prison upon his return to the country and Moroccan-born Ms Boudchar was released shortly before giving birth.

Human rights charity Reprieve says Ms Boudchar and her son will be in Parliament for Thursday's statement.


Who is Abdul Hakim Belhaj?

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Abdul Hakim Belhaj led an Islamic fighting group against the Libyan government

Mr Belhaj was born in 1966 in the Souq al-Jumaa area of Tripoli and studied at al-Fateh University, where press reports say he earned a civil engineering degree.

He became an opponent of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi and commanded the now defunct Libyan Islamic Fighting Group which staged a low-level insurgency war and three times attempted to assassinate Col Gaddafi.

He fled the country in 2001 but was arrested three years later in Thailand and was returned to Libya by, he says, the CIA.

He then spent six years in prison where he says he was tortured regularly.

Mr Belhaj is now a politician in Libya.


Once regarded by Western intelligence services as a terrorism suspect, Mr Belhaj alleges he was tortured by his Libyan jailers and questioned by British intelligence officers during his detention.

Former foreign secretary Jack Straw, who was responsible for MI6 at the time, has denied he was aware of the rendition of Mr Belhaj.

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