Libyan to sue Hong Kong over rendition
Published Thursday, June 14, 2012
A Libyan man is threatening to sue the Hong Kong government for damages over its alleged involvement in the US-run rendition program, which led to his torture in Libya by the Gaddafi regime, his lawyers said Thursday.
Sami al-Saadi was arrested in Hong Kong in 2004 and illegally transferred to Libya where he was wanted for his opposition to late dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Saadi and another Gaddafi opponent, Abdelhakim Belhaj, have also taken legal action against former British foreign secretary Jack Straw following media reports that he approved the men's capture and transfer to Libya.
They are also suing the British government and Mark Allen, the former counter-terrorism director of spy agency MI6, after documents emerged suggesting his direct involvement in their rendition.
In a letter sent to the Hong Kong justice department on Tuesday, lawyers acting for Saadi say Hong Kong acted in complicity with British, US and Libyan intelligence services in his illegal detention in the southern Chinese city.
It says he was subjected to "unlawful detention and inhuman and degrading treatment in Hong Kong", on the plane to Tripoli during his extraordinary rendition and during his subsequent imprisonment in Libya.
An exiled dissident who had been granted indefinite leave to remain in Britain as an asylum seeker in 1994, Saadi and his family were traveling through China on false passports when they were arrested.
During his detention in Libya he says he was beaten and tortured. He alleges he was interrogated by British and US intelligence agents about his links to Libyans abroad and alleged involvement in the Al-Qaeda terror group.
After a "blatantly unfair" trial, he was sentenced to death for a range of crimes in 2009, his lawyers said.
He was on death row when he was finally released by the Libyan authorities in March 2010.
Lawyer Jonathan Man said the Hong Kong government had been served a "pre-action letter" seeking full disclosure of information related to Saadi's arrest and rendition.
"At this stage, we have left the number open," he said, referring to the amount of damages his client would seek.
British legal aid group Reprieve said in a statement that Saadi's case is "one of few known examples of the rendition of an entire family, including young children, to a country where British intelligence must have known they would face torture."
"It is also significant in showing UK officials not simply assisting but actively organizing an illegal rendition," it said.
British police have said they will investigate Saadi and Belhaj's allegations of secret service involvement in their rendition.
The United States under the Bush administration and Britain were discovered to have conducted rendition programs, where men suspected of links to Al-Qaeda were sent to foreign countries known for the use of torture.
States that cooperated in the rendition program included Gaddafi's Libya, Egypt and Syria.