Blair and torture in Libya

Daily Telegraph caption to this photo: Mr Blair was flown to Libya twice at Gaddafi's expense on one of the former dictator's private jets, Photo: GETTY

As this picture shows, Nicolas Sarkozy is not the only prominent NATO country politician with a dodgy Libyan track record.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Our shameful role in torture

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Former Labour minister Jack Straw is currently touting his autobiography Last Man Standing round the media, but he doesn’t mention rendition of opposition activists to Libya.

No surprise there since, as foreign secretary, he told the Commons foreign affairs committee that “there is simply no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition – full stop – because we never have been.”

The graphic evidence supplied by Libyan Islamists Sami al-Saadi and Abdul-Hakim Belhaj puts this assertion in grave doubt.

Not only were MI6 agents involved in rendering the two men and their families to Libya but former counter-terrorism head Sir Mark Allen was pleased to write to Libya’s top intelligence official Moussa Koussa congratulating him on Belhaj’s arrival in Tripoli.

“This was the least that we could do for you and for Libya to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built over the years,” he wrote.

The “remarkable relationship,” of which he speaks was between Britain and Libya under Muammar Gadaffi, epitomised by the infamous pictures of Gadaffi being cuddled by prime minister Tony Blair.

Blair, as ever, was in Libya in the service of Britain’s oil and gas transnational corporations that were eager to get their hands on lucrative contracts for Libya’s mineral riches.

It requires no huge leap of imagination to picture Blair and his close circle of cronies weighing the human rights of anti-Gadaffi activists against British energy company profits and finding the rights argument unconvincing.

These were the years following Gadaffi’s renunciation of weapons of mass destruction, his willingness to pay reparations to the families of people killed over Lockerbie and his desire to remake his image as a friend of the West.

Libya was almost certainly not responsible for Lockerbie, but it was politically important for Washington and its junior British ally to have their propaganda to this effect confirmed, so Gadaffi chose to cough up as part of the entrance fee to US-approved polite global society.

That Gadaffi must not to be confused with the Gadaffi denounced as a dictator, torturer, murderer and all-round bad egg by his erstwhile Western “friends” in 2011 when they provided air power, arms, intelligence, logistical assistance and mercenaries to a ragbag coalition of varied and often antagonistic political forces set on toppling his regime.

The new Gadaffi was captured, tortured and beaten to death, while the new Belhaj and Saadi were transformed from terror suspects worthy of extraordinary rendition to Libya from south-east Asia to champions of democracy and human rights and friends of the West.

All could have ended happily but for the long memories of Belhaj and Saadi, who are not prepared to let sleeping dogs lie and demand that the suffering and torment to which they, their wives and children were put should be exposed and acknowledged.

Their decision to sue British government departments, intelligence agencies and both Allen and Straw individually could be very important for people in Britain too.

The issues at stake – the integrity of government ministers and agencies charged with protecting the interests of the population of Britain honestly and ethically – are too important to be shunted off to a secret court.

Light must be shone on what seem to have been murky events hidden from public scrutiny. There can be no cover-up of this legal process on spurious state security grounds.

British spies shipped Libyan opposition activists’ entire families to Muammar Gadaffi’s henchmen, a High Court is to hear – but it may be held in secret: here.

Jack Straw accused of misleading MPs over torture of Libyan dissidents. Former foreign secretary named in legal documents concerning Gaddafi opponents held after MI6 tip-offs: here.

Tony Blair ‘visited Libya to lobby for JP Morgan’: here.

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