06:22 GMT +324 September 2018
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    Abdel Hakim Belhaj

    Libyan Dissident Belhaj 'Gratified' by Rare Apology From UK – Lawyer

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    LONDON (Sputnik) - A Libyan dissident whom UK spies helped capture and hand over for torture in Muammar Gaddafi’s prisons was pleased to receive an unprecedented apology from Britain, his lawyer told Sputnik.

    The UK attorney general read out Prime Minister Theresa May’s letter in parliament on Thursday. In it, she apologized "unreservedly" to Abdel Hakim Belhaj and his wife, Fatima Boudchar, for UK’s role in their 2004 detention, rendition and suffering.

    "We are extremely gratified by the apology. We respect the sincere spirit in which it was given. It is basically the most broad and comprehensive apology ever given in a case," Cori Crider, who represented the Libyan family, said.

    Fatima was pregnant when she and her husband, the head of an opposition group, were seized in Thailand by CIA operatives on a tip-off from UK’s MI6 spies and flown to Libya as part of a secret "deal in the desert" between Libya’s leader Gaddafi and then Prime Minister Tony Blair.

    Cori Crider said the couple had spent more than six years fighting for justice in court and had had four more children while the litigation was pending. Belhaj refused to receive any compensation. His wife was awarded 500,000 pounds (almost $676,000).

    The defendant said they had dropped separate cases against two other senior officials in the Blair government – then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and MI6 counter-terrorism chief Mark Allen – whom they accused of having played a role in forced renditions.

    Crider suggested Belhaj could return to politics in Libya, which has been in turmoil since the 2011 invasion and Gaddafi’s killing. "Obviously, the situation in Libya is very difficult at the moment. But he fought his entire life to make Libya a more representative and democratic place and I don’t believe he rests until he sees that."

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    Tags:
    politics, apology, opposition, detention, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, Libya, United Kingdom
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