MOSCOW, November 6 (RIA Novosti) — The UK Investigatory Powers Tribunal has ruled in favor of two Libyan dissidents demanding the UK government publish its policies on the interception of communications, a statement published Thursday on the website of the Reprieve human rights group said.
"The Government has been forced to release secret policies which show that GCHQ [the Government Communications Headquarters] and MI5 [the Security Service] have for years advised staff that they may 'target the communications of lawyers,' and use legally privileged material 'just like any other item of intelligence,'" the statement said.
Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, two Libyan exiles who were abducted in Southeast Asia in 2004 and sent by British and US Intelligence agencies to Libya to face punishment and torture, filed the suit in mid-October. The suit stated that UK intelligence agencies, including MI5, the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and the GCHQ, intercepted the dissidents' communications with their lawyers, thus depriving them of the right to fair trial.
"It's now clear the intelligence agencies have been eavesdropping on lawyer-client conversations for years. Today's question is not whether, but how much, they have rigged the game in their favour in the ongoing court case over torture," Cori Crider, director at Reprieve, said in the statement.
"The documents clearly show that MI5's and GCHQ's policies on snooping on lawyers have major loopholes. And MI6's 'policies' are so hopeless they appear to have been jotted down on the back of a beer mat. This raises troubling implications for the whole British justice system. In how many cases has the Government eavesdropped to give itself an unfair advantage in court?" Crider added.
According to The Guardian, the abduction of the exiles and their families happened at a time when the relations between Libya, Britain and the United States were particularly cordial due to Gaddafi giving up his nuclear weapons programs.
The suit by the dissidents and their families, comprising eight people in total, also seeks remuneration for the abduction and torture experienced.