Libyan 'rendition victim' Abdul Hakim Belhaj offers to settle UK lawsuit for £3 and apology

Politician was kidnapped in Thailand and incarcerated in Gaddafi jail

A Libyan revolutionary commander turned politician who is suing the British government for their alleged involvement in his extraordinary rendition to one of Gaddafi’s notorious prisons has offered to settle his case for just £3 and an unreserved apology.

Abdul Hakim Belhaj, an Islamist opponent of the former Libyan dictator, was kidnapped in Thailand and returned to Libya where he claims he was brutally tortured and incarcerated until the revolution that swept Gaddafi from power. His family were also forcibly returned on the same flight.

Letters from Sir Mark Allen, the then head of Mi6, to Libya’s former intelligence chief Moussa Koussa were found after Gaddafi’s fall with one claiming that the intelligence which led to Belhaj’s arrest in Bangkok and return to Libya was British.

That led Belhaj to sue the British government, Sir Mark and the then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw for alleged complicity in his rendition and torture. In a letter released today, Mr Belhaj, who became a senior commander in the rebel faction that ousted Gaddafi and is now a politician, said he would settle for a pound from each of those he is suing and an unreserved apology.

The Libyan, a former leader in the Libyan Islamic Fighter Group, said he was making the offer to dispel any accusation that he was suing the British government purely for financial gain.  [Click HERE to see the full text of his letter.]

“Various media reports I have seen suggest that our motive for bringing this case is to enrich ourselves,” the letter states. “I wish to lay this misconception to rest. It is certainly true that my wife and I suffered deeply during our kidnap and in Libya…But we have come to court in Britain because we believe your courts can deliver justice.”

The LIFG were a violent Islamist group comprised primarily of Libyan veterans of the Afghan mujahideen who advocated the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. It was proscribed by many western nations post September 11 for alleged links to al-Qa’ida. However the group always denied being affiliated to Osama bin Laden’s network and insisted it was only concerned with the removal of Libya’s dictator, not al-Qa’ida’s global brand of violent jihadism.

Mr Belhaj’s offer comes at a time when the British government is pressing ahead with plans to have such cases heard in secret courts to protect national security. Civil liberty groups have expressed concerns that the so-called “Closed Material Hearings” (CMPs) would be a massive hindrance to open justice and contesting allegations from the security services.

Last year Sami al-Saadi, another Libyan who was forcibly returned from Hong Kong, agreed a £2.2m settlement with the government in which they admitted no liability in his rendition. Mr Belhaj has always refused to sign such a deal.

Mr Straw and Sir Mark have previously denied any allegations of wrongdoing and do not comment on the ongoing litigation. A Foreign Office spokesperson today said: "We can confirm we have received a letter from Mr Belhaj. [The government] is co-operating fully with investigations into allegations made by former Libyan detainees about UK involvement in their mistreatment by the [Gaddafi] regime. A police investigation is underway so we are unable to comment further. We are not going to comment on ongoing litigation."

In his letter Mr Belhaj states that he is “forever grateful to Britain” for being among those nations who helped defeat Gaddafi and insists relations between Britain and the new Libya must be on good terms. But he adds that he is pursuing his case because he wants the British government to admit to its complicit links with the Gaddafi regime.

Sapna Malik, from law firm Leigh Day which represents the former commander, said: "Mr Belhaj and his wife, Fatima, were motivated to bring their case to the UK, not for money, but because they believed the British courts would deliver a fair trial and hold to account  those responsible for their rendition and torture. They are now offering a swift resolution to their claim, which would deliver what is most important to them,  apologies and admissions of wrong doing."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales / Account Manager

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales / Account Manager is re...

Ashdown Group: Application Developer - C#.Net, ASP.Net - Cambridgeshire

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Software Application Developer (C# & ASP.Net, SQL S...

Recruitment Genius: Payroll Officer - Part Time

£12047 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Part Time Payroll Officer required for t...

Recruitment Genius: Event Management and Marketing Admin Support

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot