'Tortured' Libyan rebel calls for US and Britain apology

5th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

A senior Libyan rebel commander Monday demanded an apology from Britain and the US after seized documents suggested both countries were complicit in a plan that led to his detention and torture.

Files unearthed from Moamer Kadhafi's intelligence archives and seen by AFP documented the capture by the CIA of Abdel-Hakim Belhaj in Bangkok in 2004 and his forcible repatriation to Libya, where he had fought the old regime.

He was then jailed in Tripoli's notorious Abu Selim prison for seven years and maintains he was questioned by British intelligence officers during his captivity.

"What happened to me was illegal and deserves an apology," he told BBC News.

Belhaj, now military commander of Tripoli, also told Britain's Guardian newspaper on Monday he was considering suing both the US and British governments.

"I was injected with something, hung from a wall by my arms and legs and put in a container surrounded by ice," he said of his time in prison. "They did not let me sleep and there was noise all the time. I was regularly tortured.

"I'm surprised that the British got involved in what was a very painful period in my life," he added.

However, the rebel fighter promised the revelations would not stop the new Libya "having orderly relations with the US and Britain."

The cache of documents, originally obtained by Human Rights Watch from a Libyan security archive, includes blunt details about the secret 2004 seizure.

An apparent CIA memo told the Libyan authorities about the journey of "Abdullah al-Sadiq" and his pregnant wife from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, where the US would "take control" of the pair and hand them over.

Sadiq -- named as a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group -- is Belhaj's nom de guerre.

In another letter a senior British intelligence official congratulated Libya's spymaster on Belhaj's capture, before urging him to recognise that the intelligence which led to the arrest "was British".

Another secret CIA document suggested that Britain and Libyan jointly arranged for another terror suspect, along with his wife and children, to be taken from Hong Kong to Tripoli in 2004, according to the Guardian.

The man was named by the CIA as Abu Munthir, who was suspected of encouraging a group of Muslims to bomb an English target while he was living in Britain, the paper reported.

Britain has always denied initiating or being complicit in rendition operations.

© 2011 AFP

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