A Libyan man who claims he was forcibly sent back home, along with his wife and children, in 2004 to face imprisonment and torture under Muammar Gadaffi’s regime, has accepted a settlement of $3.5m from the UK government over its alleged role in his illegal rendition.
A British foreign office spokesman said: “We can confirm that the government and other defendants have reached a settlement. There has been no admission of liability and no finding of liability in any court.”
Sami al Saadi, a leading Gadaffi opponent, was allegedly forced on board a plane in Hong Kong with his wife and four young children in a joint operation between the UK, US and Libya.
The al Saadi family had been living outside Libya in an effort to avoid Gadaffi’s agents.
Once back in Libya, all of them were initially imprisoned and al Saadi was held and tortured for a number of years.
Evidence of the rendition came to light after the fall of Gadaffi’s regime in 2011.
CIA correspondence with Libyan intelligence, found in intelligence chief Moussa Koussa’s office by Human Rights Watch after the fall of Tripoli, said: “We are … aware that your service had been cooperating with the British to effect [Sami al Saadi’s] removal to Tripoli …
“The Hong Kong government may be able to co-ordinate with you to render [al Saadi] and his family to your custody.”
The operation in 2004 followed former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s “Deal in the Desert” with Gadaffi, as a result of which UK intelligence services allegedly helped track down and hand over his opponents.
When asked why he had accepted the government pay-out, al Saadi said: “My family suffered enough when they were kidnapped and flown to Gadaffi’s Libya.
“They will now have the chance to complete their education in the new, free Libya. I will be able to afford the medical care I need because of the injuries I suffered in prison.”
Though the UK government has not admitted any role in his rendition to Libya, al Saadi said: “I think the payment speaks for itself.”
“We look forward to the result of the police investigation and hope there will be a full and fair public inquiry into our case.”