LONDON (AP) – Two Libyans who claim that British spies were involved in their torture and rendition are launching legal action against the former director of counterterrorism at the U.K.’s foreign spy agency, lawyers representing them said Tuesday.
Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, both opponents of Moammar Gadhafi’s regime, claim that MI6 ex-director Mark Allen was complicit in torture and want to examine his role in their renditions to Libya. They have sent a letter of claim to Allen to seek his response to the allegations, and to claim damages from him personally for the trauma they said they suffered.
“We are taking this unusual step of preparing a legal action against an individual as the documents we have in our possession suggest Sir Mark was directly involved in the unlawful rendition of our clients and their families,” said Sapna Malik of Leigh Day & Co., who is representing the Libyans.
The men are also launching legal challenges against Britain’s spy agencies, the Foreign Office, and the Home Office, the law firm said.
Belhaj, Tripoli’s military council commander and a former fighter in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group which had opposed Gadhafi, claims both British and U.S. intelligence may have played a role in his 2004 detention in Thailand’s capital Bangkok and transfer to Tripoli.
His accusations are based on a document uncovered during the fall of Tripoli that allegedly contained a message from Allen referring to his rendition. The message, dated March 2004, was purportedly addressed to Gadhafi’s former intelligence chief, Moussa Koussa.
“I congratulate you on the safe arrival of Abu ‘Abd Allah Sadiq,” the message said. “This was the least we could do for you and Libya to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built over recent years.”
Belhaj is also known as Abu ‘Abd Allah Sadiq.
Sami al-Saadi, another Libyan who had been opposed to Gadhafi, also claims MI6 played a role in his rendition.
Last month, British police launched a criminal inquiry into the men’s allegations.