BBC News

Libyan man plans to give evidence at UK torture inquiry

By Andrew Harding
Africa correspondent, Tripoli

media captionLibyan man plans to give evidence at UK torture inquiry

A Libyan man who accuses Britain's MI6 of arranging to send him home to be tortured in Colonel Gaddafi's jails says he plans to travel to London to give evidence at an upcoming inquiry.

Sami al-Saadi, a leading member of a Libyan mujahideen group opposed to the Gaddafi regime, has also told the BBC that he met Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan just weeks before 9/11 and "knew his idea generally… to do something to a European country or America" but told him "you should not do that".

Mr Saadi was freed from solitary confinement in a Tripoli prison during the battle for the city last month, and taken to Tunisia for medical care. Still frail, he has just returned home to participate in the rough-and-tumble of the post-Gaddafi political arena.

Secret CIA documents recently discovered in Tripoli provide evidence of Britain's alleged involvement in a 2004 "rendition" operation to spirit Mr Saadi back to Libya from mainland China, via Hong Kong.

'Sentenced to death'

He recalled: "I arrived at the aircraft door. They handcuffed me and my wife."

Back in Libya he was subjected to "beating and electrical shock and psychology [sic] torture". He was also told he had been sentenced to death.

"A British team… one lady, one man came to see me. They asked me to co-operate to face the terrorist problem in the world. I said OK.

"I couldn't tell them [I was being tortured because] I will be tortured again. I can't say what I want."

Mr Saadi said he was also visited twice by the CIA and also by French and Italian officials.

Mr Saadi believes Britain "made agreements with Gaddafi to get some benefits… maybe about oil… and Gaddafi asked them to help him against us".

He added: "I think the British government, Tony Blair, and later the American administration [realised] too late that they have made mistake [sic] with us."

The British Foreign Office says it does not comment on intelligence matters. Another Libyan has made similar claims based on the same documents found in the offices of Colonel Gaddafi's administration.

Mr Saadi's group, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, had trained at camps in Afghanistan. But he said: "We are not agreed with Osama Bin Laden's ideas. Al-Qaeda people don't tell us about their activities. We didn't ask for fundamentalist Islamic state. We just want to bring down Gaddafi."

Mr Saadi is now talking to his lawyers about taking legal action in Britain. "I should ask for all my rights by law," he said. "I feel injustice."

He is already making plans to attend and give evidence to the upcoming Gibson inquiry that will examine Britain's role in the mistreatment of terrorism suspects.

He said: "We need some guarantees not to do this again with others." So could he forgive Britain? "Maybe later when we see what they will do for our cases. I don't think of revenge but… I faced many difficulties and my kids and wife."

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