MI6 and CIA under scrutiny after 'rendition' court cases
British government pays £2m to Libyan dissident as CIA is found guilty of 'torture'
BRITISH and American intelligence agencies are under scrutiny today over two cases of 'extraordinary rendition' that have led to court cases.
Libyan dissident Sami al-Saadi (above) and his family have been paid a settlement of more than £2m by the British government after they were abducted and flown back to Tripoli - allegedly with the help of MI6 - where he was imprisoned and tortured by the regime of Colonel Gaddafi.
Meanwhile the European Court of Human Rights has heard how Khalid El-Masri, an innocent German of Lebanese origin, was sodomised, beaten and shackled by a team of CIA agents as Macedonian police stood by after he was seized and handed over to a 'rendition team' in 2003.
The Saadi case: The High Court in London was told yesterday that Saadi had accepted a settlement of £2.23m in compensation from the UK government, although it did not admit any liability.
The rendition operation took place in 2004, days after Tony Blair visited the North African state and signed the "deal in the desert" with Gaddafi. After the agreement "UK intelligence services helped track down and hand over [Gaddafi's] opponents," notes The Guardian.
Saadi and his family were lured from their home in China to Hong Kong, where they were abducted by the CIA and flown to Tripoli. After the fall of the Gaddafi regime, documents were discovered that suggested British agents were involved. Saadi was held in a Libyan prison for six years.
The Daily Mail describes the pay-out as "hush money" designed to prevent "the exposure of embarrassing secrets about Britain's alleged role in the kidnap and 'rendition' operation".
Police are still investigating the role of MI6 in the rendition of Libyan dissidents and The Daily Telegraph reports that there have been calls for an "inquiry into the extent of the UK’s involvement in torture and other abuses of detainees held overseas".
The El-Masri case: Human rights groups have hailed a "historic" judgment at the ECHR, where the practice of "extraordinary rendition" was defined as torture.
The Strasbourg court ruled that German car salesman Khalid El-Masri, who had the misfortune of sharing a name with an al-Qaeda suspect, "suffered both torture and inhumane and degrading treatment at the hands of the CIA and the Macedonia border guards," according to the Telegraph, when he was seized in late 2003.
James Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, told The Guardian the ruling was "an authoritative condemnation of some of the most objectionable tactics employed in the post-9/11 war on terror".
Masri's case caused outrage in 2004 after he was left on a mountain road in Albania by US officials several months after Macedonian border guards handed him over the CIA and he was flown to Afghanistan.