MI6 won’t be charged over kidnap, torture of Libyans

Libya's Islamist military chief Abdel Hakim Belhadj © Youssef Boudlal
Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced Thursday that no charges will be brought against British spies over the 2004 rendition of Libyan dissidents due to "insufficient evidence."

The Scotland Yard officers who have been building the case for over four years are likely to be dismayed, while spy agency MI6 and Jack Straw - who was foreign secretary with oversight of MI6 at the time - are likely to breathe a sigh of relief.

The Belhaj case has rocked the British security establishment since it came to light. It followed the discovery of documents in the ruins of the Muammar Gaddafi regime.

The files recovered from a government building destroyed during the 2011 US-led war showed that British spies were centrally involved in the Belhaj family’s kidnap in Thailand.

Abdel Hakim Belhaj, a leading Islamist opponent of the Gaddafi regime, was taken to Libya and imprisoned for six years. He maintains he was tortured.

His pregnant wife was taped to a stretcher following the MI6 tip-off that betrayed the couple. She was then taken on a 17-hour flight and later imprisoned for four months.

Another dissident Sami al-Saadi was also mentioned in the documents. He too was imprisoned and claims to have been tortured.

Both men say UK spies were present for their interrogations by Libyan secret services.

During the same period, then-PM Tony Blair visited Colonel Gaddafi in Libya as part of a thaw in relations between the two countries.

The victims’ lawyers say such high-level political interactions position the kidnapping in a context of increased security cooperation and trade and energy deals worth millions.

Al-Saadi reportedly received a £2.2-million pay-out from the UK, while Belhaj wants the British to make a formal apology to his wife.

The decision by the CPS will effectively halt ongoing investigations into Britain’s role in post 9/11 kidnap and torture. The process is known in the sanitized security jargon of the era as ‘extraordinary rendition’.