UK extends apology to Libyan Gaddafi dissident, gives his wife half a million pounds

Abdelhakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar [Photo: Internet]

The UK government has apologised to a Libyan dissident and his wife after its actions contributed to their detention, transfer to Libya and his torture by Colonel Gaddafi’s forces in 2004.

Prime Minister Theresa May said Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar had suffered “appalling treatment”.

Ms Boudchar, who was pregnant at the time, has accepted Mrs May’s apology and will receive a £500,000 payout.

The couple say an MI6 tip-off helped the US kidnap them in Thailand.

Boudchar, who was pregnant, was released from detention four months later, weeks before she gave birth, while Belhaj, the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, was not released until 2010.

The apology letter said it is clear the the couple were both subjected to appalling treatment and suffered greatly, not least to the affront to the dignity of Mrs Boudchar, who was pregnant at the time.

“The UK government believes your accounts. Neither of you should have been treated this way. The UK government’s actions contributed to your detention, rendition and suffering. The UK government shared information about you with its international partners.” The letter says, as read by Jeremy Wright, the UK Attorney General.

Mrs May said the UK “should have done more to reduce the risk” of the pair being mistreated, adding: “We accept this was a failing on our part. On behalf of Her Majesty’s government, I apologise unreservedly.”

From Istanbul, Belhaj said in a presser that the apology of the UK is a relief to the long call for justice and ending abuses of human rights, adding that he hoped other countries to learn form this lesson.

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