Blairite Jack Straw, MI6’s Sir Mark Allen ‘too big to jail’ for Libyan torture

This video from the USA says about itself:

Files Reveal U.S. & Britain Had Extensive Ties With Libya on Rendition, Torture. 1 of 2

7 September 2011

Human Rights Watch has uncovered hundreds of letters in the Libyan foreign ministry proving the Gaddafi government directly aided the extraordinary rendition program carried out by the CIA and the MI6 in Britain after the 9/11 attacks. The documents expose how the CIA rendered suspects to Libyan authorities knowing they would be tortured. One of the most prominent suspects rendered to Libya was an Islamic militant named Abdelhakim Belhaj, who is now the military commander for the Libyan rebels. …

Democracy Now! speaks to Peter Bouckaert, the emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, who helped find the documents in Tripoli; and Gareth Peirce, a well-known British human rights attorney who has represented numerous Guantánamo prisoners as well as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

This video is the sequel.

By Jean Shaoul in Britain:

Labour’s Jack Straw and MI6’s Sir Mark Allen shielded from prosecution over rendition to Libya

13 July 2016

The UK Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has announced that Sir Mark Allen, the former head of MI6’s counterterrorism operations, and then Labour Foreign Secretary Jack Straw will not face criminal charges for their role in the illegal rendition and torture of Libyan dissidents.

Its decision flies in the face of the overwhelming evidence of Britain’s involvement at the very highest level in the rendition and torture of two Libyan Islamist dissidents in 2004. Just days later, the Guardian reported that the government had, as of last September, spent at least £600,000 in an effort to prevent a civil case going ahead, forcing Straw and Allen to give evidence.

Abdel Hakim Belhaj, a Libyan Islamist opposed to former leader Muammar Gaddafi, and his wife, are suing the then Labour government, the foreign secretary and the head of Britain’s security service for complicity in their detention, rendition and torture in 2004 at the hands of the CIA on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, one of the agency’s global network of “dark sites.”

Detainees at these sites were subject to detention for years under the most inhumane conditions, torture, water boarding, sexual assault, sleep deprivation, forcing inmates to stand on broken limbs, and murder, for which no officials have stood trial.

While it was common knowledge that Diego Garcia was used as a US detention facility, the British government has always maintained that it never gave the US explicit permission to use the island for its rendition, detention and torture programme.

Balhaj claims that during his six years in a Libyan prison he was interrogated by US and British intelligence agents. His pregnant wife claims she was chained to a wall for five days, then taped to a stretcher for the 17-hour flight to Libya where she was detained in prison until just before the delivery of her son, who was born weighing just four pounds.

In 2012, the British government paid out £2.2 million to another Libyan dissident, Sami al-Saadi and his family, who stated under oath that the British intelligence authorities forcibly transferred them to Libya to be detained and tortured. This was to prevent the Libyans’ evidence being heard in court, and the foreign secretary and senior intelligence officials having to give evidence.

Belhaj has been determined to get the British government to admit to its crimes. He offered to call off the proceedings in exchange for just £3 in damages, an admission of liability for what was done to him and his wife, and an apology from the British government. The government rejected the offer and has since sought to get the courts to block the case.

Belhaj’s lawyers have cited documents found in abandoned government offices in Tripoli after the 2011 NATO-led invasion of Libya to topple the Gaddafi regime and install a puppet government. In the 2011 operation, NATO backed the same Al Qaeda-linked Islamist forces, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, of which Belhaj was a leader, and whose members NATO had earlier illegally rendered to Libya.

The documents include a letter from MI6’s senior officer, Sir Mark Allen, to Libya’s intelligence chief, Musa Kusa, showing that the CIA, with help from British intelligence, used Diego Garcia as a stopover for rendering Belhaj and his pregnant wife to be tortured in Libya.

Last November, the government went to the UK’s Supreme Court in an effort to block the case, arguing that British courts cannot hear Belhaj’s case since agents of foreign intelligence agencies, meaning the CIA, were also involved in the operation. The government has thus far spent at least £10 million trying to prevent the case from being heard. The court has yet to deliver its judgement on whether Belhaj’s suit can proceed.

Another case is being brought by 12 opponents of the Gaddafi regime—six Libyan men, the widow of a seventh, and five British citizens of Libyan and Somali origin—against both Britain’s spy agencies, MI5 and MI6, the Home Office and the Foreign Office.

Using evidence from the recovered documents, they are alleging false imprisonment, blackmail, misfeasance in public office and conspiracy to assault, and demanding damages. They claim that the British government worked closely with Libya and used information obtained under torture from Sami al-Saadi and Abdel Hakim Belhaj as evidence against them during partially secret proceedings in London.

Initially, both Straw, who as foreign secretary in Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labour government was responsible for MI6, and Allen denied any British involvement in extraordinary rendition. Successive British governments have sought to cover up what was going on. When the Libyan documents revealing British complicity in detentions and torture came to light, Straw claimed he could not be expected to know everything the intelligence agencies were doing.

The intelligence services have flatly contradicted this, saying that it was “ministerially authorised government policy.” Sir Richard Dearlove, head of MI6 at the time, said, “It was a political decision, having very significantly disarmed Libya, for the government to cooperate with Libya on Islamist terrorism.”

In 2011, the NATO-led invasion of Libya to topple the Gaddafi regime, which the Blair government had previously brought in from the cold in 2004, was to use these same “Islamist terrorists” as its proxies.

According to the Guardian, Eliza Manningham-Buller, who headed the domestic intelligence service MI5, was furious about MI6’s involvement in extraordinary rendition and torture. She wrote to Blair complaining about it, saying its actions may have compromised the security and safety of MI5 officers and their informants, and even threw MI6 staff out of MI5’s headquarters. Human rights lawyers are now demanding that the government publish the letter.

Following the publication of the correspondence in 2011, the London Metropolitan Police carried out a four-year investigation, gathering 28,000 pages of evidence about Britain’s role in extraordinary renditions and torture, which it presented to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The CPS claimed that there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone. However, it was forced to acknowledge that “the suspect,” described as a public official, meaning Sir Mark Allen, knew about the renditions of the Belhaj and Saadi families, thereby blowing apart the government’s attempts to keep its criminal role in renditions and torture under wraps.

Crucially, in an attempt to protect Straw, the CPS did not invoke section 7 of the 1994 Intelligence Services Act that protects MI6 officers from prosecution for illegal acts anywhere in the world as long as the secretary of state had authorised their actions in writing.

The lawyers for the Belhaj and Saadi families have said they intend to challenge the CPS’s decision not to bring charges. If their challenge fails, they could initiate judicial review of the decision-making process.

Straw’s criminality was also highlighted in the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war. According to its report, he played a key role in “hardening up” a document setting out the threat supposedly posed by Iraq and its non-existent weapons of mass destruction under Saddam Hussein.

This is not the first time such a claim was made. The 2004 Hutton inquiry revealed an email written by Straw’s then private secretary that described his role as foreign secretary in “hardening up” the dossier with a “killer paragraph.”

A Supreme Court verdict paves way for tortured Libyan to sue Jack Straw: here.

A LIBYAN couple who allege that the British government was complicit in their detention and torture demanded at the High Court today that material relied on by the director of public prosecutions be revealed: here.

28 thoughts on “Blairite Jack Straw, MI6’s Sir Mark Allen ‘too big to jail’ for Libyan torture

  1. Saturday 6th August 2016

    posted by Paddy McGuffin in Britain

    CPS criticised for not prosecuting government

    HUMAN rights lawyers condemned the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) yesterday for again refusing to bring charges against the British government over its role in the kidnapping and rendition of two Libyan families, including a pregnant woman and children, 12 years ago.

    The al-Saadi and Belhaj families were abducted, forced onto planes and flown to the north African country in March 2004 in a joint operation by MI6 and the CIA.

    Sami al-Saadi and Abdul-Hakim Belhaj were both prominent opponents of Colonel Muammar Gadaffi’s regime who had been living with their families in exile. They suffered years of torture after their forced return to Libya.

    Recently the families demanded a review of a previous CPS decision not to prosecute, despite its finding that a senior British intelligence official was involved in the operation and had — to a limited extent — sought political approval for it.

    Evidence of Britain’s central role in the operation emerged after Gadaffi fell from power in 2011.

    Documents discovered in the office of Libyan spy chief Moussa Koussa included correspondence in which senior MI6 officer Sir Mark Allen took credit for the intelligence behind the operation.

    In a fax to Mr Koussa, Sir Mark wrote: “I congratulate you on the safe arrival of … the air cargo [Mr Belhaj and his pregnant wife Fatima Boudchar].”

    But, in a letter sent yesterday to the families’ lawyers at international human rights organisation Reprieve, the CPS director of legal services upheld the original decision not to bring charges.

    Cori Crider, who represents the two families, said:

    “This was exactly what we feared would happen when the CPS froze the victims out of the so-called ‘victims’ review.

    “This was not a run-of-the-mill exercise. The lead suspect in Operation Lydd was a top MI6 official, the key witnesses included ministers and heads of our intelligence agencies.

    “It was vital that the review command public confidence.

    “Instead, the CPS flogged it through in seven weeks, without making even the feeblest attempt to engage the victims about their concerns. It looks like a complete stitch-up.”

    Ms Crider noted that Director of Public Prosecution Alison Saunders “came into post saying that women and child victims got a ‘raw deal’ out of the justice system — and she promised to make it better,” adding: “The Belhaj and al-Saadi families have seen no sign that those words meant anything.”


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  6. Wednesday 18th
    posted by Steve Sweeney in Britain

    Couple win right to sue ex-foreign secretary

    THE government lost a legal bid yesterday to block a couple from suing former foreign secretary Jack Straw for damages over Britain’s role in their rendition and torture.

    Gadaffi opponents Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar were kidnapped in 2004 while travelling from China to Britain in a joint operation between MI6 and the CIA.

    Both were handed over to Libyan authorities where they said they were abused and tortured.

    Libyan national Mr Belhaj was jailed for six years and interrogated by “foreign” agents, including some from Britain. He said he was savagely beaten, hung from walls and cut off from human contact and daylight. His pregnant wife Ms Boudchar also spent four months in prison.

    The government went to the Supreme Court to block their bid but, in a landmark ruling, the court has paved the way for the couple to sue then foreign secretary Mr Straw as well as former MI6 head of counterterrorism Sir Mark Allen.

    The British government has never acknowledged its role in the CIA rendition programme — despite evidence being in the public domain — meaning nobody has been held publicly accountable.

    Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsey German said: “The rendition of suspects has long been an open secret in which the British government has been complicit. I would like to see Jack Straw in the dock over this.”

    Human rights group Reprieve believes the rendition was part of the so-called “deal in the desert” struck between Tony Blair and Libyan ruler Muammar Gadaffi in 2004, which occurred in the same month as the couple were snatched.

    They have accused the government of wanting to cover up their role in rendition and torture. Ms Boudchar and Mr Belhaj have suggested that they would settle for a token £1 from each of those they hold responsible along with an apology and an admission of liability.

    Reprieve strategic director Cori Crider welcomed the ruling and said the “stakes couldn’t be higher” following US president-elect Donald Trump’s promise to bring back the controversial practice of waterboarding “and a hell of a lot worse.”

    She said: “Our intelligence agencies may well be pressured to help America torture again.”

    Mr Straw said in a statement: “I was never in any way complicit in the unlawful rendition or detention of anyone by other states.”

    Mr Belhaj, an Islamist militant, was part of the Britishbacked Islamic Fighting Group in the 1990s, which tried to assassinate Gadaffi several times.

    Since the start of the Natobacked uprising against Gadaffi in 2011, he has led Islamist militias in the country.


  7. Wednesday 22nd February 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Britain

    AN ATTEMPT to cover-up torture cost Britain a staggering three quarters of a million pounds, human rights organisation Reprieve revealed yesterday.

    The government is accused of spending £744,000 to stop a case involving the kidnap and torture of Libyan dissident Abdelhakim Belhaj and his pregnant wife from reaching court.

    The pair were snatched in a joint operation between British and US spies in 2004 and were illegally rendered to Libya.

    Mr Belhaj and his wife Fatima sued the British government for its part in their ordeal, which reached the Supreme Court last year.

    Reprieve human rights lawyer Cori Crider said: “The government has wasted a staggering sum of public money in this case — it seems no expense is too great to spare the blushes of the security services.

    “With would-be torturers on the rise in America and elsewhere, there’s no time like the present for a full formal apology.”


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  18. Saturday 22nd July 2017

    posted by Steve Sweeney in Britain

    High Court says Belhaj truth could damage national security

    A COURT case involving allegations that Jack Straw and MI5 colluded in the abduction and torture of a Libyan couple will be held in secret, the High Court ruled yesterday.

    Government lawyers successfully brought the case behind closed doors, claiming an open trial would damage national security.

    The case against Mr Straw, former senior MI6 officer Mark Allen, MI6 itself, MI5 and the Foreign Office has been brought by Libyan dissidents Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar who was pregnant at the time she was imprisoned.

    The Gadaffi opponents were detained in 2004 in Bangkok following a tip-off from MI6 and were flown to Tripoli against their will on a rendition operation.

    In Libya the pair were interrogated by intelligence services including MI6 and Mr Belhaj says he was beaten, hung from walls and denied daylight during his time in the Libyan jail.

    Ms Boudchar spent four months in prison and was released weeks before the birth of her child while Islamist leader Mr Belhaj was released in 2010.

    They opposed the government’s request for a secret trial as extensive evidence of the CIA torture programme has been in the public domain for years.

    However, the High Court found that an open trial would cause “significant damage to the interests of national security.”

    The ruling means that the alleged torture victims, the media and their lawyers will be excluded from parts of the trial.

    Facts of the case that are officially confirmed include the CIA’s use of a so-called “black site” — a secret prison — in Thailand and their use of a specific rendition jet to take the married couple to Libya.

    The Metropolitan Police have confirmed that MI6 spy chief Sir Mark Allen was investigated for his role in the renditions and that they recommended criminal charges.

    Mr Belhaj said: “I went through a secret trial once before, in Gadaffi’s Libya.

    “It took about a half hour, and I never saw any of the evidence against me. Later a guard came to my cell and tossed in a red jumpsuit — that was how I found out that the secret court had sentenced me to die.

    “What kind of a trial will it be if we put in a mountain of evidence and government officials can simply refuse to answer us?

    “It’s hard to see how this fits with Britain’s long tradition of open justice.”


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