Reprieve demands an immediate inquiry into the reported death of Sheikh al-Libi, the ‘informer’ whose false statements – obtained by torture – were used to justify the Iraq war

May 11, 2009

Ibn al Sheikh al Libi was tortured by the CIA into stating that Saddam Hussein was connected to al Qaeda, thus justifying the invasion of Iraq.

When his statements proved false, al Libi was ‘disappeared’ by the US to the worst prison in Libya – a country renowned for its human rights abuses. It is thought that al Libi was sent to Libya – rather than Guantanamo Bay – in order to suppress his story and avoid further embarrassment to the USA.

We are now told that al Libi committed suicide in his Libyan prison. However, Reprieve has good reason to believe that he may have died from untreated tuberculosis that developed during his years in US custody. Al-Libi was originally tortured aboard a US prison ship before being sent to Egypt for further abuse, and eventually to Libya. Reprieve believes al-Libi’s fate is a good indication of what awaits many Guantanamo prisoners should they be returned to their home countries. It is crucial that President Obama finds third country homes for such prisoners.

Reprieve’s Renditions Investigator Clara Gutteridge said:

“This is another case to add to the list of suspicious deaths possibly caused by the wretched conditions in illegal CIA prisons. Al Libi’s case demonstrates everything that is wrong with the US secret prison system. He was tortured into making false statements that were relied upon to start the Iraq war, and when that became too embarrassing he was ‘disappeared’ to a rights-abusing country.”

The US must release all documents and records relating to Sheik al-Libi’s detention.


For more information please contact Katherine O’Shea at Reprieve’s Press Office;; 020 7427 1099.

Notes for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

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