Abdel Hakim Belhaj, Libya Rebel, Suing UK Over Alleged Role In Rendition

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Abdel Hakim Belhaj, commander of the Tripoli Military Council, looks on during an interview on September 1, 2011 in Tripoli, Libya.(Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) | Getty

LONDON — The head of Tripoli's military council is suing Britain and its security forces for their alleged role in his rendition to Libya in 2004, a legal action charity said Monday.

London-based group Reprieve said that Britain was complicit in the torture of Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and his wife, who were subject to abuse after they were handed over to United States authorities for rendition.

The group said that Balhaj has instructed the law firm Leigh Day & Co to take legal action against the government.

It said that the couple, who then lived in Beijing, tried to leave the country to seek asylum in Britain but were instead forced on planes that took them to what they believed to be a secret U.S. prison where they were abused. The couple were then imprisoned in Libyan jails.

"The barbaric treatment which our clients describe, both at the hands of the Americans and the Libyans, is beyond comprehension and yet it appears that the U.K. was responsible for setting off this torturous chain of events," said Sapna Malik, a lawyer representing Belhaj and his wife.

A number of documents held by the Libyan security services unearthed after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi's regime showed that the British alerted the Libyans to the couple's whereabouts, Reprieve said.

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