Blair must explain role in sending Gaddafi dissidents back to dictator’s torture chambers

January 24, 2015

Image of Abdul-hakim Belhaj

It has been revealed today that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, saying that he was ‘disappointed’ more opponents of the dictator weren’t able to be sent back from the UK to Libya.

In the letter, written in April 2007 and published in today’s Daily Mail and Guardian, Mr Blair also wrote that he wanted to offer ‘a personal word of thanks’ to the Libyan dictator ‘for your assistance in the matter of deportation’ and commented on ‘the excellent co-operation of your officials with their British colleagues’.

In 2004 Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, Gaddafi opponents, and their entire families including Mr Belhaj’s pregnant wife and Mr al-Saaadi’s four children under the age of 12, were kidnapped and rendered back to Gaddafi’s torture chambers as part of a joint MI6-CIA operation. Mr Belhaj and his wife are currently in the middle of legal proceedings – assisted by human rights NGO Reprieve – against the UK government for its role in their ordeal.

Commenting on today’s revelations Cori Crider, Strategic Director at Reprieve and lawyer for Mr Belhaj, said:

“Given the appalling way the al-Saadi and Belhaj families suffered during their UK-sponsored kidnap and rendition to Gaddafi in March 2004, it turns the stomach to read Mr Blair stating he was ‘disappointed’ not to be able to send more hapless Libyans back for the same abuse. Mr Blair must urgently explain why he continued to seek the ‘cooperation’ mentioned in this fawning message, even while our clients languished in Gaddafi’s torture chambers. Thankfully, Britain today is not Gaddafi’s Libya – not even former Prime Ministers are above the law.”

ENDS

1. For further information, please contact Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 7739 188 097