(Reprieve) – Former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, former MI6 officer Sir Mark Allen, and the UK Government have refused to tell the High Court their reasons for contesting claims against them over their role in rendition and torture even after requesting…
A man who was rendered to Gaddafi’s Libya in a joint MI6-CIA operation has written to Sir Mark Allen, the former MI6 official who was responsible for his ordeal, following a rare public comment by Sir Mark.
In a recent article for the Catholic Herald, Sir Mark Allen – formerly head of counter-terrorism at MI6 – argued for a faith-based “answer to terrorism.”
The article, published in August, was Sir Mark’s first known public comment since the exposure in 2011 of his role in the 2004 kidnap and rendition of two families to Libya – including Abdul Hakim Belhaj, his pregnant wife Fatima Boudchar, and the al-Saadis, who included a child as young as six. The Catholic Herald piece was published a day before the UK Crown Prosecution Service publicly confirmed its decision not to charge Sir Mark over the affair.
A family who were rendered to Gaddafi’s Libya in a joint MI6-CIA operation have spoken of their disappointment at a decision by British prosecutors, announced yesterday, not to bring charges against UK officials implicated in their kidnapping.
Abdul-Hakim Belhaj, a prominent Gaddafi opponent, and his then-pregnant wife, Fatima Boudchar, were kidnapped in March 2004, forced onto planes, and taken to Libya in a joint MI6-CIA operation. Another dissident, Sami al-Saadi, and his four children were abducted shortly afterward. Speaking to the Daily Mail in an interview published today, Mr Belhaj described the torture he went on to suffer in Gaddafi’s prisons.
In a statement yesterday, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced that a senior British intelligence official was involved in the operation and had – to a limited extent – sought “political authority for some of his actions.” However, the CPS went on to claim there is “insufficient evidence” to bring charges.
Reports in today’s Guardian state that the then-head of MI5 wrote to Prime Minister Tony Blair to protest MI6 involvement in CIA renditions during the ‘war on terror.’ According to the paper, Eliza Manningham-Buller’s letter warned that MI6’s actions – which included organizing the kidnap and rendition of two Libyan families, including a pregnant woman and four young children – threatened UK intelligence gathering and the safety of MI5 officers and informants.
Senior figures in MI6 and the Government of the day are now awaiting an announcement from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on whether to bring charges over UK involvement in the 2004 Libyan renditions, which saw the Belhadjand al Saadi families kidnapped and forcibly transferred to Libyan prisons. Mr Belhadj and Mr al Saadi – who were both prominent opponents of Colonel Gaddafi – suffered years of torture in the dictator’s prisons as a result of the MI6-orchestrated operation.
However, according to the Guardian, “investigators have been frustrated by the way potentially key witnesses have said they were unable to recall who had authorized British involvement in the rendition program, who else knew about it, and who knew the precise details of the Belhaj abduction.”