Muammar Qaddafi's regime worked closely with US and British intelligence agencies for several years, including aiding in the rendition and interrogation of CIA detainees, according to new documents uncovered in Libyan government offices in Tripoli.
The documents, discovered by Human Rights Watch and other journalists in offices apparently used by former Qaddafi intelligence chief and Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa, indicate the CIA sent at least eight suspected militants to Libya for interrogation between 2002 and 2007, despite Libya's reputation for using torture, The New York Times reports.
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The flurry of communications about renditions are dated after Libya’s renouncement of its weapons program. In several of the cases, the documents explicitly talked about having a friendly country arrest a suspect, and then suggested aircraft would be sent to pick the suspect up and deliver him to the Libyans for questioning. One document included a list of 89 questions for the Libyans to ask a suspect.
While some of the documents warned Libyan authorities to respect such detainees’ human rights, the C.I.A. nonetheless turned them over for interrogation to a Libyan service with a well-known history of brutality.
Human Rights Watch's Peter Bouckaert told BBC News in a video interview that the US intelligence agency "wasn't just abducting suspected Islamic militants and handing them over to the Libyan intelligence. The CIA also sent the questions they wanted Libyan intelligence to ask and, from the files, it's very clear they were present in some of the interrogations themselves."
Both the CIA and MI6 also aided Qaddafi's regime in tracking down Libyan dissidents, including Abdul Hakim Belhadj, now a senior military official in the rebel government. Mr. Belhadj, also known as Abdullah al-Sadiq, was seized by the CIA – though apparently based on British intelligence – in March 2004 and dispatched to Libya, reports the Financial Times.
The [British] memo’s author congratulates Mr. Koussa on “the arrival of Abu ‘Abd Allah Sadiq”, according to Human Rights Watch. Another document Mr. Bouckaert discovered, apparently authored by a CIA agent in early March, describes a plan to “take control” of Mr Belhadj and his pregnant wife in Bangkok and deliver them to Libya.
The document says Britain will ignore a request from Washington that all information from the suspect should be channeled through the US. The MI6 officer asserts: “the intelligence about Abu ‘Abd Allah was British.”
Although the documents have not been independently verified, the Times notes that in an interview Wednesday, Belhadj gave a description of his incarceration in Libya that matches the details in the documents. In the interview, Belhadj also said he was tortured by two CIA agents in Libya.
Al Jazeera reports that in 2006, Tony Blair's government invited two of Qaddafi's sons, Khamis and Saadi, to visit the headquarters of Britain's Special Air Service (SAS) special forces unit for "VIP demonstrations" by the SAS. However, the Ministry of Defence says those visits never ended up taking place.
Both the CIA and MI6 declined to comment on the documents, though CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood said: “It can’t come as a surprise that the Central Intelligence Agency works with foreign governments to help protect our country from terrorism and other deadly threats.”