September 6, 2012

III. Transfers to Libya that Began in Asia

For three of those interviewed by Human Rights Watch, their returns to Gaddafi’s Libya began in Asia. Their testimonies are described below.

Abdul Hakim Belhadj

Abdul Hakim Belhadj © 2012 Human Rights Watch

Abdul Hakim Belhadj (Belhadj) [251] said he left Libya in 1988. He fought against the Soviet-installed government in Afghanistan in the early 1990s and later became the leader of the LIFG. After fleeing Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks, Belhadj went to various countries, ending up in China. From there, he and his wife sought asylum in the United Kingdom by traveling through Malaysia. He was denied exit from Malaysia and detained by immigration authorities there. After a subsequent attempt to reach the United Kingdom by traveling through Thailand, Belhadj and his wife were denied exit and detained by Thai authorities. They allege that while in detention there they were interrogated and ill-treated by persons they believed were Thai and US authorities.

Belhadj and his wife were later rendered to Libya under circumstances indicating American and British involvement, which is corroborated by documents in the Tripoli Documents. Once in Libya, Belhadj was detained for years and subjected to ill-treatment—including prolonged solitary confinement—and numerous interrogations by Libyan, American, British, and other foreign personnel. After six years in Libyan detention, Belhadj was summarily tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. He was released in March 2010 as part of a “de-radicalization” initiative pushed by Saif Gaddafi and later played a prominent role in the revolution. Most notably, Belhadj served as commander of the Tripoli Military Council after revolutionary forces seized control of the city from regime forces in August 2011. He resigned his post in May 2012 to run for election to the National Congress.

Departure from Libya

Belhadj was born in 1966 in Tripoli. He left Libya in 1988 because he said it was impossible to live under the Gaddafi government. “I was forced into exile, I didn’t have a choice! In Libya we were living under a dictatorial regime that did not permit any sort of freedom of thought or expression.… The Gaddafi regime wanted to destroy us.” [252] He was in his last year of engineering school when he left Libya. He first went to Saudi Arabia and then Afghanistan, where he fought against the Soviet occupation of that country. [253] After the Soviet-backed Afghan government of Mohammad Najibullah lost power in 1992, he and other Libyans who were part of the LIFG focused on their main aim—the overthrow of Gaddafi. Belhadj went on to become the leader of the LIFG, which from various locations around the world waged a low-level insurgency against the Libyan government for many years. Belhadj spent time in Turkey, Sudan, and other countries as well. [254]  During this time the LIFG had bases in several different countries but also in eastern Libya, where they launched operations against the Gaddafi government. However, in the mid-1990s the LIFG in Libya was crushed, and in 1999 Belhadj, along with other LIFG members, returned to Afghanistan. [255]

Before September 11, 2001, Belhadj was based in Afghanistan with other LIFG members.[256]After the attacks, he and other LIFG members left the country, worried they would be swept up in US-led post-September 11 arrests. Belhadj and others fled to different parts of the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.[257] By 2004, Belhadj was living in China with his Moroccan wife, Fatima Bouchar. In early 2004, with Bouchar pregnant, the couple feared they were under surveillance and decided to seek asylum in the UK.[258]They first tried to travel to London from Beijing in February 2004, but the authorities in Beijing sent the couple to Kuala Lumpur, from where they had previously travelled.[259]

Malaysia and Thailand

In Kuala Lumpur, Belhadj and his wife were detained by Malaysian authorities for 13 days and held in very bad conditions.[260] “My wife needed a doctor and couldn’t get health care,” Belhadj said.[261] He said that one of his associates had visited the British embassy in Kuala Lumpur and let officials there know that Belhadj wanted to seek asylum in the UK.[262] Shortly thereafter the couple was told, though it is not clear by whom, that they would be allowed to travel to the UK but only through Bangkok.[263] However, after the two arrived in Bangkok, they were arrested while in the airport waiting room.[264] They were then taken to a special room in the airport in Bangkok in which, Belhadj alleges, he and his wife were severely mistreated and abused by the CIA for several days.[265]

While in CIA custody in Bangkok, Belhadj said he was “stripped and beaten.”[266] He was forced to be naked, wear a blindfold, was hung against a wall by one arm and then by one leg, and was put into a tub with ice.[267] He was also forced to wear earmuffs that were only removed when his captors blasted his cell with loud music or when he was being interrogated.[268] Belhadj said they gave them no food and they refused to get him a doctor when he told them he needed one.[269]  He was asked about his alleged ties to al Qaeda, which he denied.[270]

Belhadj’s wife said that she was dragged away from her husband at the Bangkok airport and feared he was going to be killed. In an interview with The Guardian , she said, “I thought: ‘This is it.’ I thought I would never see my husband again…. They took me into a cell, and they chained my left wrist to the wall and both my ankles to the floor. I could sit down but I couldn’t move.” She said her captors included two tall, thin men and an equally tall woman who were mostly silent and dressed in all black. [271] At the time, Bouchar was four and a half months pregnant. “They knew I was pregnant,” she said. “It was obvious.” [272] She said her captors gave her water while she was chained up, but no food for five days. [273]  

The couple said they were separately put on a plane to Libya, but were not aware that the other was on the flight.[274] Belhadj said he was handcuffed and blindfolded and that his hands were tied to his legs.[275] He was crouched over, unable to stand or lie down, for the entire 17-hour journey. He was forced to drink water and prevented from using the bathroom.[276] He said he was beaten just before the plane landed.[277] Sometimes his captors put a cushion under his elbows, providing brief respite, but then took it away again.[278] 

Bouchar later told The Guardian that her captors forced her to lie on a stretcher and bound her to the stretcher from head to toe with tape. They taped her stomach, arms, and then her chest so tightly that she was unable to move. They then wound the tape around her head, covering her eyes, before putting a hood and earmuffs on her. She was unable to move, to hear or to see. “My left eye was closed when the tape was applied … but my right eye was open, and it stayed open throughout the journey. It was agony,” she said.  She did not know where she was going or that her husband was on the plane. Only upon arrival in Libya did she hear a man grunting with pain, and realized her husband was with her.[279]

The Tripoli Documents corroborate the couple’s account. The UK government appears to have alerted Libyan authorities that Belhadj and his wife were in Malaysian custody.[280] A document in the folder marked “UK” mentions that Abdullah Sadeq (the name Belhadj was using at the time), travelling under a French or an Iraqi identity, “is being held in the Sepang detention center in Malaysia” with his “pregnant wife.”[281] The document is undated, but notes that the couple was traveling around February 21.[282]

Two faxes found in the folder marked “USA,” both dated March 4, 2004 and marked “Secret Release Libya Only,” appear to have been sent by the CIA to the Libyan Security Service. One has a subject line that reads, “Clarification Regarding the Rendition of Abu Abdullah al-Sadiq.”[283] The other had a subject line that reads, “Urgent Request Regarding the Extradition of Abdullah al-Sadiq from Malaysia.”[284] It is not clear which fax was sent first, but the fax seeking clarification begins by thanking the Libyan security service for the “hospitality” that it showed to CIA officers during their recent visit to Libya; remarks that the discussions had during that visit were “very productive;” and pronounces that they are “committed to developing this relationship” for the “mutual benefit” of both services. It then goes on to read: 

Our service is committed to rendering the terrorist Abu Abdullah al-Sadiq to your custody. To this end, we have been in touch with the Malaysian authorities to help facilitate the transfer of custody in atimely [sic] manner. We do not yet have all the details from our station in Kuala Lumpur regarding how and when this transfer will take place, but we are very hopeful for a [sic] expeditious resolution to this matter. We will provide you with the details as soon as they are available to us.[285]

The other fax dated the same day, with “urgent request” in the subject line, says the United States is working “energetically” with the Malaysian government to “effect the extradition of Abdullah al-Sadiq” from Malaysia. It says that the Malaysians have “promised to cooperate and to arrange for Sadiq’s transfer to our [the CIA’s] custody” and that they will be “very happy to service your debriefing requirements” and “will share the information with you [Libyan security service].” The fax also says that the CIA was “at a delicate point in [its] discussions with the Malaysians” and therefore asks that the Libyans temporarily “cease any further engagement” with the Malaysian government until the CIA has “custody of Sadiq” or has judged that the Malaysians are “unwilling to cooperate with the U.S. government.”[286] 

Two days later, on March 6, the CIA sent the Libyans another fax saying that Belhadj and his “pregnant (4 months) wife” would be leaving Kuala Lumpur on the evening of March 7, on a commercial flight to London via Bangkok, corroborating Bouchar’s belief that her captors knew she was pregnant.[287] The CIA said it planned to take custody of the couple in Bangkok, and that it was “vital” that a Libyan security officer be present to accompany the couple on the flight from Bangkok to Libya.[288]

Also on March 6, the CIA sent another fax, with the subject line “Schedule for the Rendition of Abdullah al-Sadiq,” to Libyan intelligence. [289] It details the flight plan for the aircraft that was supposed to pick up Belhadj and his wife and take them to Libya. The fax informs the Libyan intelligence service that the flight will leave Washington, DC Dulles International Airport on March 6/7, make a stop in Tripoli and refuel on March 7, then fly to the Seychelles, where it will remain overnight. Then on March 8, it will leave the Seychelles for Bangkok, where it will refuel, presumably pick up Belhadj and his wife, and fly to Tripoli, with a stopover for half a day in Diego Garcia (a US naval air base in the British Indian Ocean Territory). [290] The fax asks the Libyans to make sure their officers “have the proper documentation for [the Seychelles], otherwise they will not be allowed to leave the aircraft.” [291]

The flight plan laid out in the document corresponds to some Eurocontrol flight data on file with Human Rights Watch. According to that data, a flight plan for a Boeing 737 with tail number N313P (the same tail number as a plane mentioned in Tripoli Document 2233, which apparently transported the MI6’s Mark Allen and the CIA’s Steve Kappes to Libya—see below), operated by Aero Contractors—a North Carolina company widely reported to have been used by the CIA—filed a flight plan to go from Dulles airport in Washington at 2:51 a.m. on March 7, 2004 and land in Tripoli at 12:01 p.m. local time. The plane then appears to have flown beyond Eurocontrol’s area of responsibility, because it disappears temporarily from Eurocontol’s flight records. The plane’s trajectory is not recorded again in the Eurocontrol records until March 9, 2012, when a flight plan was filed for a departure from Misrata, Libya on March 9 at 4:47 p.m. local time for Palma Majorca, an island off the coast of Spain.

Another of the Tripoli Documents provides evidence of the role of the United States and the United Kingdom in Belhadj’s transfer back to Libya. At the end of a two-page letter from “Mark in London” (presumably Mark Allen, former head of counterterrorism at MI6 named in other Tripoli Documents) [292] dated March 18, 2004, to “Musa,” he writes to “congratulate” Musa Kusa on the “safe arrival of Abu ‘Abd Allah Sadiq,” the name Belhadj used at the time. [293] The letter continues, “[t]his was the least we could do for you and for Libya to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built over the years.” Then, corroborating US involvement, he writes, “Amusingly, we got a request from the Americans to channel requests for information from Abu ‘Abd Allah through the Americans. I have no intention of doing any such thing. The intelligence about Abu ‘Abd Allah was British. I know I did not pay for the air cargo. But I feel I have the right to deal with you direct on this and am very grateful to you for the help you are giving us.” [294] The exchange took place just a week before British Prime Minister Tony Blair made an official visit to Tripoli and praised Gaddafi for his willingness to help fight the so-called war on terror. [295] Earlier in the letter, details about the upcoming Blair visit are discussed. [296] “No. 10,” paragraph 5 of the blurry but legible document reads—referring to No. 10 Downing Street, the residence of the British prime minister—is “keen” that he meet the “Leader” in his tent.  “[J]ournalists would love it,” the letter continues. “If this is possible, No. 10 would be grateful,” it reads. [297]  

The Tripoli Documents formed the basis of a lawsuit that Belhadj and his wife initially brought against the UK government and its security forces.[298] Later Belhadj and his wife also sued former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw for personally signing off on their abduction and transfer.[299] When the suit was initiated, Belhadj said his main aim was an apology and acknowledgement of wrongdoing.[300] Only when requests for this were ignored did he decide to sue.[301] Belhadj told the nongovernmental organization Reprieve, “What we have asked for like many victims of rendition in the past is an apology. All we seek is justice.… We hope the new Libya, freed from its dictator, will have positive relationships with the West. But this relationship must be built on respect and justice. Only by admitting and apologizing for past mistakes … can we move forward together as friends.”[302]

The Tripoli Documents also led to a criminal investigation by UK Police into MI6’s involvement in the rendition of Belhadj and Saadi (see below), another Libyan who was rendered to Libya with MI6 and CIA assistance.[303]

Treatment in Libya

Upon arrival in Libya, Belhadj and his wife were driven separately to Tajoura prison in Tripoli.[304] Belhadj said he was then brought directly to Musa Kusa, who was standing right in front of him when his blindfold was removed. “I’ve been waiting for you,” Belhadj said Kusa told him.[305] 

Bouchar was put in a cell where she would spend the next four months.[306] She told The Guardian that she was interrogated for about five hours a day. “At one point a cot was brought in the cell along with some baby clothes, nappies, a bed cover and a baby bath,” she said. “I really thought I was going to have to have my baby there, and that we would both be held there.”[307] Bouchar was released three weeks before giving birth to a son.[308]  Belhadj was brought to her cell for a few moments before she was set free, though not permitted to leave the country.[309]

Belhadj was held for six more years, five of them in solitary confinement.[310] He said he went for a year and a half without any sunlight. His treatment depended upon how responsive he was during interrogations.  He was denied family visits for three years and then subsequently was able to receive visits every three months. He said he was deprived of sleep and often interrogated at night and forced to stand for long periods of time.[311]

While he was in Libyan custody, Belhadj said he was interrogated four times by people he believes were American agents. [312] He was also interrogated by alleged British agents during two sessions that lasted about two hours each. [313]   He said they were very knowledgeable about the LIFG and asked questions about members living in the United Kingdom. His Libyan captors told him that his treatment would improve if he told the British that the LIFG activists were linked with al Qaeda. [314] “I told the British, as I told everyone else, that LIFG had no link with al-Qa’ida. I knew making a link would stop what was happening to me, but I was not going to do it.” [315] Intelligence officers from other European countries, including France, Italy, Germany, and Spain, also interrogated him while he was detained in Libya. [316]

The authorities tried Belhadj in 2008 for crimes against the state. Although he had a state-appointed lawyer, he was never given a chance to meet with him. There were no witnesses at the trial, and the only evidence taken into consideration was a report from Libyan security services.[317] He was sentenced to death.[318] “I fully expected I would be killed,” he said.[319] Instead, over time and in conjunction with efforts started by Gaddafi’s son, Saif Gaddafi, he began to participate in an effort to negotiate a prisoner release. Several hundred prisoners, including Belhadj, Saadi, and Sharif were released in early 2010.[320] To obtain his release, he had to publicly renounce his efforts to overthrow the government by force.[321] However, he told Human Rights Watch that he never gave up his desire for regime change.[322] In February 2011 the uprisings against Gaddafi began and Belhadj played a significant role, particularly in the capture of Tripoli.[323] He then became part of the transitional government’s Tripoli Military Council, but stepped down to take part in elections in Libya on July 7, 2012.  Belhadj ran as a candidate under the Islamist political party Hizb al-Watan which, although initially popular, did not do as well as expected.[324] They lost to the liberal National Forces Coalition party headed by Mahmoud Jibril.[325]

Sami Mostefa al-Saadi

Sami Mostefa al-Saadi © 2012 Human Rights Watch

Sami Mostefa al-Saadi (Saadi) [326] left Libya in 1988. He spent time in Afghanistan, fighting against the Soviet-installed government. He was, as was Belhadj, a founding member of the LIFG.  Later, rather than go back to Libya, he sought asylum in the United Kingdom, where he was granted “indefinite leave to remain.” After a series of incidents made him feel unsafe there, he returned to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He eventually became the LIFG’s law and religious leader. After the September 11 attacks, he fled with his family to Iran and then went to Malaysia where he tried to seek asylum, failed, and traveled on to China, where he decided to try to return to the United Kingdom via Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, he and his family were detained and ultimately rendered to Libya, with apparent direct US and UK involvement, as corroborated by the Tripoli Documents.

In Libya, Saadi suffered abusive treatment in custody for five years, during which time he was interrogated by, in addition to Libyan authorities, persons he believes were US and UK personnel.  He was charged, given a summary trial, and sentenced to death.

Human Rights Watch interviewed Sami Mostefa al-Saadi in Tripoli on March 14, 2012 as well as Saadi and his daughter Kadija on March 25, 2012. The following account and quotes are drawn from the former interview unless otherwise noted.[327]

Departure from Libya

Saadi was born in Tripoli on March 21, 1966. His family had a lot of property and businesses, all of which he said were “misappropriated by the state” by the Gaddafi government. He left Libya in 1988, in his early 20s, because he said the government was interfering with his ability to practice his religion and because he generally opposed its oppressive practices. While he was studying engineering at the University of Tripoli, he became actively involved in a small secret group in Libya (a precursor to the LIFG) that, at the time, was engaged in planning to resist the government by force. He later became a founding member of the LIFG and its law and religious leader.[328] He was detained once in 1984 for a month for distributing anti-Gaddafi leaflets. When Saadi left Libya, he went to Afghanistan via Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to assist in efforts to oppose the Soviet-installed government. “I believed in the fact that Afghan people were oppressed,” he said. He left two brothers behind, both of whom were imprisoned for many years for their anti-Gaddafi activities and both of whom he said died in the Abu Salim prison massacre of 1996.

After the Afghan government fell in 1992, infighting among groups in Afghanistan made it hard to stay in the area. He also said it was very difficult for Arabs to remain. So in 1993 he sought asylum in the United Kingdom. In 1994, Saadi was granted “indefinite leave to remain.”[329]

At some point, either prior to or during his time in the UK, he went to Algeria and got married. From 1994 to 1997 Saadi was in the UK, where he and other LIFG members continued to organize and plan operations against Gaddafi.  By 1997, however, he began to feel unsafe there as well. Twice, an individual approached him and tried to speak to him in Urdu and Arabic, asking him questions that showed knowledge about his family and attempting to get information from him. Then a Libyan associate of his who was opposed to Gaddafi, Ali Abuseid, was killed in a stabbing in his grocery store in London in 1996.[330] So Saadi left with his family and other LIFG members and they began to organize from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Saadi said he felt “there was no other place for us to go.”

During his years in Afghanistan, Saadi lived and worked in Kabul, where the LIFG was active. He said he met Osama bin Laden on two occasions in Kandahar, in 2000 and in the late summer of 2001. Saadi told Human Rights Watch that bin Laden had already been making harsh statements against the United States and it was clear to him that bin Laden was planning violence against the US.  Saadi said he had an argument with Osama bin Laden about this where he told him that for many reasons, the actions against the US that he was planning were not legally authorized within Sharia. “We told OBL [bin Laden] that the consequences of operations against civilians would be negative, but he was not convinced,” Saadi said.

Immediately after the September 11 attacks, Saadi and several other LIFG members and their families left the area, moving from place to place to avoid arrest. They first went to Pakistan, but that did not feel safe there either. They then moved on to Iran. They sent their families there first. “I asked my wife if she wanted to go to Algeria and be with her family there, but she preferred to be with me,” Saadi said.  But at the time Saadi himself could not get proper papers for Iran, so he crossed over borders illegally, only meeting his family there later. They stayed in Iran for about a year. “The LIFG were all there together in a sort of community,” he said. But in January 2003, he said they were forced to leave Iran. By this time, Saadi had four children.

They went to Malaysia, where he hoped to get asylum. He visited a UN office and was given an appointment for a month later. Before then, he was arrested by the Malaysian authorities, who detained him and his family for about 10 days. Saadi asked to be released to go to his UN appointment. The Malaysian authorities said they would, but if he went back to the UN, he would find US officials waiting for him. So he asked to be sent to China, where he had already obtained a visa. “The Chinese visa was so easy for us,” he said. “The Chinese were receiving people from everywhere at the time.” The Malaysians then sent him to China.

From China he attempted to get back to the United Kingdom. Saadi’s friends and family in the UK told him that if he went to the UK embassy in Hong Kong, someone there would be able to help him.[331] When he arrived in Hong Kong, a man he assumed was a UK diplomat was waiting for him when he got off the plane. Instead, he was arrested for purported passport or immigration violations and detained, most of the time with his family. The room was monitored with cameras. During this period he said he overheard two police women arguing: “They were talking in their own language and I didn’t understand everything, but I did hear ‘CIA’ about four or five times, so I expected that something not good was about to happen.” After 13 days of detention, the Hong Kong authorities told him he would be sent back to China.

On or about March 28, 2004, Saadi said he was handcuffed, his legs zip-tied, and he was taken along with his wife and four children onto an empty plane with an Egyptian crew. He and his children were taken to the back of the plane, while his wife, who was screaming and in what he described as a “terrible psychological condition,” was kept elsewhere. It was not until five Libyan security personnel—four men and a woman—appeared on the plane during a stopover in Bangkok that Saadi realized he was being rendered to Libya. Once he realized it, he lost consciousness. Saadi is diabetic and his blood sugar had risen. “That’s when I first realized I was being sent back to Libya. It was a mixture of horrible emotions: anger, fear, sadness.”

“I felt like we were being kidnapped. I was very scared. I thought they would execute us all,” Kadija al-Saadi, Saadi’s oldest child who was 13 years old at the time, said.[332] Around this time, she came to the area of the plane where her father was. When she saw many soldiers around him and the needle in his arm while he was still handcuffed to the chair, “I fainted too,” she said. Later during the flight, about half an hour before they landed, Libyan security agents came and told her to come and say goodbye to her father. “I expected that that was when they would come and execute him,” she said.[333]

The Tripoli Documents corroborate Saadi’s story. Saadi’s return appears to have been initiated by the MI6, but once the CIA discovered it was underway, they stepped in to do everything they could to assist. A March 23, 2004 fax from the CIA to Libyan intelligence, found in the folder marked “USA,” states that the CIA has “become aware” that Saadi and his family were being held in detention in Hong Kong and that the Libyans have been working with the British to “effect [his] removal to Tripoli” on a Libyan plane that was in the Maldives.[334] In the fax, the CIA said that it was aware that the Hong Kong special wing had denied permission for the Libyan airplane to land. It went on to explain, “However, we believe that the reason for the refusal was based on international concerns over having a Libyan-registered aircraft land in Hong Kong. Accordingly, if your government were to charter a foreign aircraft from a third country, the Hong Kong government may be able to coordinate with you to render Abu Munthir [Saadi] and his family into your custody.”[335] The CIA even offered to pay for the non-Libyan-registered charter aircraft. “If payment of a charter aircraft is an issue, our service would be willing to assist financially to help underwrite those costs.”[336]

The CIA requested perfunctory diplomatic assurances that Saadi and his family would not be harmed if they provided assistance: “Please be advised if we pursue that option [providing assistance], we must have assurances from your government that Abu Munthir [Saadi] and his family will be treated humanely and that his human rights will be respected.” [337]

In the same fax, the CIA also provided suggestions as to how the Libyans might expedite the process and convince the Hong Kong authorities to cooperate.[338] “[W]e believe that you will need to provide significant detail on Abu Munthir (e.g. his terrorist/criminal acts, why he is wanted, perhaps proof of citizenship)…. Specifically, the Hong Kong government must have a stipulation … that he will not be subject to the death penalty.”[339]

The next day, on March 24, 2004, the Libyan authorities sent a 32-page fax to Hong Kong authorities containing, among other things, a birth certificate, information on why Saadi was wanted, and details on the “crimes and the terrorist activities that [Saadi] committed.” They also promised that the “maximum penalty” for what he had done was “life imprisonment.”[340] (Though later, after being in Libyan custody for five years without charge, Saadi was sentenced to death).  The United States also provided the name and telephone numbers for Hong Kong’s principal secretary for security.[341] 

After the Hong Kong authorities received this information, it appears they agreed to allow the non-Libyan registered charter aircraft to land. Also in the Tripoli Documents, in the folder marked “USA,” a fax sent just two days before Saadi arrived in Libya contains a cover page marked “Hong Kong Landing Requirements” and two pages stamped “confidential.” It states that in order for the “Non-Scheduled Flight to land in Hong Kong,” the Libyan government has to comply with “certain regulations” so that a “Permission to Land” can be issued.[342] It also confirms, “[i]t is agreed that the subject person will be moved together with his whole family (a total of six persons) on board of the same flight” and recommends a “local Aircraft Handling Agent” for the transaction who needs to be paid in “cash (in US dollars).”[343] Saadi was transferred around March 28, 2004, just a few days after Tony Blair’s historic first visit to Libya on March 25. [344]

Treatment in Libya

Three days later, Saadi and his family were put aboard a private, Egyptian-registered jet and flown to Tripoli. When they landed, Saadi said he and his wife were both hooded in front of their children. Local authorities took them to the External Security Office of Amn Kharihi prison in Tajoura, where they were separated. Saadi’s wife and children were held at the facility for two months before being released. Saadi was detained for six years and only saw his family sporadically.[345]

Saadi said that the day after he arrived on March 28, 2004, Musa Kusa, the head of the Libyan intelligence service, came to his cell and said, “Before 9/11, you went to countries where we couldn’t reach you. But now, after 9/11, I can just pick up the phone and call MI6 or the CIA right away and they will provide us with the most recent or up to date information on you.” [346]

Saadi said he was held without charge at the Tajoura prison for approximately three years, much of that time in solitary confinement. Then on December 15, 2007, he was moved to Abu Salim prison, where he was held until March 23, 2010.[347] During his time at Tajoura, Libyan authorities interrogated him sporadically and at times beat him. The interrogations usually started at 5 a.m. and went until noon. He said he was not treated badly during the first month in custody and was even led to believe that he would be released in a matter of days. But after that, the treatment got worse. He said he was hit with a black wooden stick that was just over a foot long, whipped with a rope, slapped, kicked, punched, and administered electric shocks on the neck, chest, and arms. He estimates that he was shocked 15 times. After about a year and a half at Tajoura, Saadi noted that the abuses began to lessen. He thought that this might have been because of increased cooperation with the Americans and a commitment by the Libyan authorities as part of that cooperation to not use force. He added, however, that when interrogators got angry, they still seemed to have a “green light to start” physically abusing him.

Saadi told Human Rights Watch,

The beatings took place outside the cell and outside the interrogation room—it was a room just for beating and torture.… The beatings were random, not regular. For example, after an interrogation, if they weren’t satisfied, I found myself in a different room and the torture and beating would start. It would be a different group doing that [the beating] but sometime the interrogators would be there just watching.

During his time at Tajoura, Saadi said, he was interrogated by Libyan, American, British, and Italian intelligence agencies, as well as some agents who spoke French, though he did not know if they were French.

The interrogators Saadi believes were American questioned him twice: once immediately after he arrived in Libya and again four of five months later. The first team of Americans consisted of two interrogators, a man named Joe or John, who was short and thin, and a woman in her 40s. He said, “It seemed that this lady was specialized in Libyan files because she knew everything about the Libyan guys—their fake names, their true names, everything.” For the first part of the interrogation, Musa Kusa was present in the room, but he eventually left the room “angrily” over Saadi’s denials that he and his group were the same as al Qaeda. “He was telling them that there was no difference between our group and al Qaeda and that we are dangerous not only for Libyans but for Westerners especially.” They questioned Saadi for several hours over one day, asking him about his time in China and one of the Libyans living in the UK. He said they did not physically abuse him.

The second group of American interrogators—a team of five—consisted of the same short thin man, another man, and three women, including the interpreter. This time the questions were much more specific and lasted all day, until past midnight.

Sometime between the first and second visit by American interrogators, a team of two that Saadi believes were from the United Kingdom questioned him—a man in his 30s with brown hair and a short beard and a woman in her 40s who was thin and blond. He said the British interrogation was short and focused more on the LIFG’s ideology.

Saadi said the French-speaking agents questioned him about a year into his imprisonment and that the “nicest” interrogators were the Italians. “They were so decent with me,” he said. They asked “for permission” to interrogate him and explained that “it would be very useful to know” certain things. “They knew I had met Osama bin Laden and wanted to know more about this. They also asked my opinions about things like whether or not I thought their presence in Iraq would result in retaliations against Italy.”

In 2009, Saadi was charged with 14 crimes, including attempting to overthrow the government and spreading ideology against the revolution. His trial took place in the prison and he was convicted and sentenced to death. Saadi was released on March 23, 2010 as part of the same negotiated release that freed Belhadj, Sharif, and other prisoners (see above). Yet after the uprisings against Gaddafi began in February 2011, he was arrested again, along with his son, and held until August 2011, when rebel forces captured Tripoli.

In October 2011, Saadi filed a lawsuit against the British government (the security services, the attorney-general, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Home Office) for their complicity in his transfer back to Libya.[348] In January 2012 Saadi, along with Belhaj, also filed a civil suit against MI6’s former head of counter-terrorism, Sir Mark Allen, accusing him of complicity in torture, misfeasance in public office, and negligence.[349] Then on June 17, 2012, Saadi filed a claim against the government of Hong Kong for its role in his transfer.[350] Saadi now lives in Tripoli with his family. He is an imam at a local mosque and founded a political party, al-Umma al-Wasat. He ran, as did Belhadj, as a candidate during the July 7, 2012 elections. But his party, along with many other smaller ones, was defeated by the National Forces Coalition party headed by Mahmoud Jibril.[351]

Muhammed Abu Farsan

Muhammed Abu Farsan © 2012 Human Rights Watch

Muhammed Abu Farsan (Abu Farsan) [352] was a member of the LIFG who left Libya in 1990. He spent a decade in Libyan opposition training camps in Afghanistan and Sudan. After the September 11 attacks, Abu Farsan traveled to multiple countries with his family seeking asylum. While in transit in the Netherlands on the way from China to Morocco, he sought asylum in the Netherlands but his asylum claims were ultimately denied. The Netherlands deported Abu Farsan and his family to Sudan, where he was taken into custody. Abu Farsan said that in Sudan he was interrogated by Sudanese authorities and by a man who introduced himself as being with the CIA. After two weeks the Sudanese transferred him to Libya, where he spent several years in Libyan detention and was subjected to prolonged solitary confinement and repeated interrogations by Libyan authorities. Ultimately he was charged and tried for his involvement with the LIFG, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison. He was detained in Libya until February 16, 2011, as the uprisings against Gaddafi began.

Human Rights Watch interviewed Muhammed Abu Farsan in Tripoli in March 2012. The following account and quotes are drawn from this interview unless otherwise noted. [353]

Departure from Libya

In 1982, when Muhammed Abu Farsan was about 18, he joined the police department. In 1988, against his will, he was transferred to the military. During his military service, he said, he came under pressure because of his religious beliefs. The military was a secular institution and he said those who were devout Muslims were held in suspicion. At some point during his military service, he was arrested and detained for a month. In June 1990, he suspected the security service was looking for him again, so he decided to leave Libya.

Abu Farsan spent the next decade at Libyan opposition training camps in Afghanistan and Sudan, with brief visits to Egypt, Malta, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. He told Human Rights Watch, “Afghanistan was a good place for the Libyans to train to get new skills to fight Gaddafi. At the time there was no other country that allowed us to be together and train.” In 1994, he returned to Libya to visit family and stayed for two years, much of it in hiding. Then in June 1996, he left again, this time going to Sudan to train with the LIFG. He spent about five years in Sudan and got a Sudanese passport. In May 2001, he went to Syria and got married, and then shortly afterwards he went to Afghanistan.

When he arrived in Afghanistan, Abu Farsan said, everyone at the various training camps knew that al Qaeda was planning some sort of operation against the United States. He said there was an open debate about it amongst all of the various groups. Even many al Qaeda Arabs did not agree with bin Laden’s methods, he said: “The LIFG did not want anything to do with it. We did not agree with these actions, but Afghanistan was a refuge for all wanted people.” After the September 11 attacks, Abu Farsan said he spent the next several months “running around all over the place trying to find some safe refuge.”

He went first to Pakistan, then to Syria and Iran. Along the way, his wife gave birth to a son, so he returned to Sudan to add his son to his passport. He spent the next few years on the move, moving back and forth among Syria, Iraq, Malaysia, and China. “I was worried constantly I was going to get caught any minute,” he said. During this period, he was in contact with Belhadj and Saadi, who were also in Asia at the time.

In early 2004, he decided to seek asylum in Europe. On February 19, 2004, travelling with Moroccan passports, Abu Farsan, his wife, and his infant son boarded a KLM flight bound for Morocco via the Netherlands. “I thought that if I made it to Holland and asked for asylum, I would be okay there. My son was less than two years old,” Abu Farsan said. When he arrived in the Netherlands, the Dutch authorities held him for six months while they entertained his asylum application. The Dutch authorities found his Sudanese passport and were trying to insist he was Sudanese but he told them that he was in fact Libyan but could not get Libyan documentation from the Libyan government. He applied for asylum based on his Libyan nationality saying he could not return to that country. The Dutch authorities appear to have given his application consideration. He was provided a lawyer and took part in immigration proceedings. At one point he said he was asked to sign papers agreeing to be sent to Syria, but he refused. Ultimately, he said his asylum application was denied.

Among the Tripoli Documents, in the UK folder, was an April 23, 2004 fax from British intelligence to the Libyan government thanking them “for the information which you provided us on Abu Zinad, also known as Muhammad Abu Farsan,” and requesting more. [354]

They noted in the fax that they understood he was currently in Dutch custody and indicated their intention to share information with the Dutch government. British intelligence stated, “We would like to share the information on Abu Zinad with Dutch liaison in The Hague in case they can assist us in identifying Abu Zinad if he is there.”[355] Four months later, on August 9, 2004, Abu Farsan and his family were deported to Sudan. He knew it was likely that less developed countries would have fewer qualms than Western governments about sending him back to Libya, so he was very concerned that if he was sent to a non-Western country he would in fact be returned. He said he protested strongly. “In the court I asked if they were going to transfer me to Libya,” he told Human Rights Watch. “I told them, if you are going to send me anywhere else, I am going to end up in Libya, so why not just send me to Libya directly?”[356]

The Netherlands sent Abu Farsan to Khartoum around August 7 or 8. His wife and son appear to have been with him. His son was about one year old at the time. After a night in Nairobi, they arrived in Khartoum on August 9, 2004. Sudanese authorities took him to a detention facility and interrogated him for three days. On the fourth day, they took him to what he describes as a “large building with air conditioning,” where two Sudanese officials and an American—who introduced himself as being from the CIA—interrogated him. Abu Farsan said the American agent was tall, in his early thirties, had an athletic build, spoke very good Arabic “in a way I could completely understand,” and “had a beard like Mohammed.”

Abu Farsan said that the CIA agent interrogated him three times, asking him about the LIFG and its relationship with al Qaeda. He told him that the British also had a lot of intelligence on him but Abu Farsan said he was not interrogated by British agents. At first, the CIA agent was very polite, but when Abu Farsan did not provide the answers he wanted, the agent began threatening that he would be sent to Libya. The CIA agent insisted that Libya would not be any worse than Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Abu Farsan said the American agent never physically abused him.

In total, Abu Farsan was in Sudanese custody for about two weeks. He spent much of that time on a hunger strike because the authorities would not tell him where his wife and son were. Then, on the morning of August 21 or 22, he was told that he would be going back to Libya. He was taken to a plane with Libyan intelligence agents on board. At some point his family came on board as well. They were all flown together to Tripoli.

Treatment in Libya

Upon arrival in Tripoli, he was again separated from his wife and child and taken to the external affairs building at the Tajoura prison. Abu Farsan said that on the first day, he was brought to see Musa Kusa:

“He told me, we will bring all of you. We have Belhadj and Saadi. We will get you all and bring you here.”

For 16 months, Libyan authorities held him in isolation in a dark cell “about the size of a mattress.” He had no idea what had happened to his family. He was forbidden from speaking to other prisoners, and the only time he was taken out of his cell was for interrogation. Abu Farsan said that for the first month, Libyan agents interrogated him constantly, day and night. After the first month, he was not interrogated again, though he said sometimes Libyan intelligence agents would show him photographs of people and ask if he knew anything about them. Foreign intelligence agents never interrogated him.

On December 23, 2004, Abu Farsan was taken out of Tajoura prison. For the next year-and-a-half, he was transferred back and forth between the Sikka and Enzara prisons. During that time, he was told that his wife and son were in Libya, and he was allowed to see them.  He was also during this period tried and convicted for being a member of the LIFG, possessing fake documents, participating in the Afghan jihad, and providing material support to the LIFG. On March 15, 2006, Abu Farsan was sentenced to life in prison.

On June 7, 2006, Abu Farsan was transferred to Abu Salim prison. At Abu Salim, Abu Farsan said conditions were a little better than at Tajoura. His cell was slightly bigger and he was allowed to bathe, and the ventilation was better. But he was still kept in isolation most of the time. He was at Abu Salim when a riot broke out in October 2008. One of his friends was killed and five others injured when the government violently suppressed it.

Overall, Abu Farsan said that the conditions of his detention were better than those experienced by others he knew who had been detained in earlier years. During his period, he said, the Libyan authorities were being easier on prisoners as they opened relations with the West and prepared for Gaddafi’s son, Saif Gaddafi, to come to power. Conditions at Abu Salim in particular started to improve when Belhadj, Saadi, and Khalid Sharif began negotiating with the government for the release of prisoners.[357] Abu Farsan was released on February 16, 2011.


[251] Abdul Hakim Belhadj also went by the name of Abu Abdullah al-Sadiq, sometimes spelled Sadeq.

[252] Christophe Ayad, “‘We Are Simply Muslim’: Libyan Rebel Chief Denies Al-Qaeda Ties,” Le Monde, translated into English and published by, September 4, 2011,,8599,2091744,00.html.(accessed May 2, 2012).

[253] Ibid.; Tawil, Brothers in Arms, p. 53.

[254] Ayad, “‘We Are Simply Muslim’,” Le Monde.

[255] Tawil, Brothers in Arms, p. 179.


[257] Human Rights Watch interviews with Belhadj, Saadi, Abu Farsan, and others, Tripoli, Libya, March 2012.

[258] “Libyan rebel leader Abdel Hakim Belhadj sues British Government for illegal rendition to Libya,” Reprieve news release, December 19, 2011,

[259]“Libyan rebel leader Abdel Hakim Belhadj sues British Government for illegal rendition to Libya,” Reprieve news release.

[260] Ibid.; Also, Human Rights Watch interview with Belhadj, Abu Salim Prison, Tripoli, April 27, 2009.

[261] Human Rights Watch interview with Belhadj, Abu Salim Prison, Tripoli, April 27, 2009.

[262] Martin Chulov, “MI6 knew I was tortured, says Libyan rebel leader,” The Guardian, September 5, 2011, (accessed June 15, 2012).

[263]“Libyan rebel leader Abdel Hakim Belhadj sues British Government for illegal rendition to Libya,” Reprieve news release

[264] Human Rights Watch interview with Belhadj, Abu Salim Prison, Tripoli, April 27, 2009.

[265] Ibid.At that time, Belhadj told a Human Rights Watch researcher that he was detained in Bangkok by the CIA from around March 3, 2004 until he was sent to Libya on March 9, 2004.

[266] Ibid.

[267] Ibid.

[268]Ian Cobain, “Special report: Rendition ordeal that raises new questions about secret trials,” The Guardian, April 8, 2012,

[269] Human Rights Watch interview with Belhadj, Abu Salim Prison, Tripoli, April 27, 2009.

[270] Ibid.

[271]Cobain, “Special report: Rendition ordeal that raises new questions about secret trials,” The Guardian.

[272] Ibid.

[273] Ibid.

[274] Ibid.

[275] Human Rights Watch interview with Belhadj, Abu Salim Prison, Tripoli, April 27, 2009.

[276] Ibid.

[277] Ibid.

[278] Cobain, “Special report: Rendition ordeal that raises new questions about secret trials,” The Guardian.

[279] Ibid.

[280] Tripoli Document 2264 appears to be a document sent by the UK secret service to the Libyan intelligence service. Human Rights Watch photographed a copy of this document, but it is too blurry to read. A legible copy was also obtained by The Guardian and is available at (accessed June 14, 2012).

[281] Ibid.

[282] Ibid.

[283] Tripoli Document 2173.

[284] Tripoli Documents 2173 and 2174.

[285]Tripoli Document 2173.

[286] Tripoli Document 2174.

[287] Tripoli document 2172, a fax from the CIA to the Libyan intelligence service.

[288] Ibid.

[289] Tripoli Document 2171.

[290] Ibid. Representatives of the British government denied that Diego Garcia played any role in the global rendition program, including in meetings with Human Rights Watch, but later, after confronted with evidence, apologized and admitted that in fact two rendition flights had refueled there in 2002. Colin Brown, “Official apology after CIA ‘torture’ jets used UK base,” The Independent, February 22, 2008, (accessed July 25, 2012). There was no mention at the time of the 2004 Belhadj or Saadi renditions, and the government Foreign Office has declined to comment further. Cobain, “Special report: Rendition ordeal that raises new questions about secret trials,” The Guardian

[291] Tripoli Document 2171.

[292] The “Mark” who signed the letter is believed to be Mark Allen, former head of counterterrorism at MI6, because he is named in a number of other Tripoli Documents where other “CIA” and “MI6” issues are discussed. For example, Document 2226, dated June 19, 2003, signed by “Mark” and “Steve” to Musa Kusa, discusses an upcoming “joint CIA and SIS” “technical visit” by a “team of experts” to Libya to examine Libya’s “WMD” (Weapons of Mass Destruction) program. Another letter depicted in Document 2233 is about either the technical visit referenced in Document 2226 or a different one. It says that “Mark Allen” and “Steve Kappes” will be arriving in Libya for a “joint US/UK technical visit” on a Boing 737 Business Jet with tail number N313P. A Boeing 737 with registration number N313P has been linked to a large number of CIA rendition flights. See Human Rights Watch, Double Jeopardy: CIA Renditions to Jordan, April 2008,, p. 24-25; See also  “Human Cargo: Binyam Mohamed and the Rendition Frequent Flier Programme,” Reprieve, June 10, 2008, (accessed July 25, 2012), p. 16, n. 35.  A “Mark Allen” was MI6’s director of counterterrorism at the time these letters were written and Steve Kappes is a former deputy director of the CIA. See Richard Norton-Taylor, “Sir Mark Allen: the secret link between MI6, the CIA and Gaddafi,” The Guardian, September 4, 2011, (accessed July 25, 2012); Jeff Stein, “Inside Man,” Washingtonian, March 25, 2010, (accessed July 25, 2012); and George Tenet, At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007), p. ix, where Steve Kappes is identified as senior officer in the clandestine service, and p. 289-97, where Kappes’ trips to Libya with a senior British officer to evaluate Libya’s weapons WMD program is discussed in detail.

[293] Tripoli Documents 2266 and 2267, a fax from MI6 to Libyan intelligence service.

[294] Ibid.

[295] “Blair hails new Libyan relations,” March 25, 2004, BBC News,

[296] See Tripoli Documents 2266 and 2267. Parts of the document are blurry, but it is dated March 18, 2004. Paragraphs 4 and 5 discuss the “present thinking” of “No. 10” and whether the “Leader” and the prime minister will have a press conference. It also discusses how many journalists will be going (about 60).

[297] See Tripoli Documents 2266 and2267; and also Tripoli Document 2226, dated June 19, 2003.

[298] “Belhadj lawyers announce fresh legal action in rendition case,” Leigh Day & Co. news release, April 9, 2012, (accessed June 15, 2012).

[299] “Legal Papers Served on Former Foreign Secretary,” Leigh Day & Co. news release, April 18, 2012, (accessed June 15, 2012); See also “Libyan Rebel Leader Sues British Government for Illegal Rendition to Libya,” Leigh Day & Co. news release, December 19, 2011, (accessed June 15, 2012).

[300] “Legal Papers Served on Former Foreign Secretary,” Leigh Day & Co. news release, April 18, 2012. (accessed June 15, 2012).

[301] “Libyan Rebel Leader Sues British Government for Illegal Rendition to Libya,” Leigh Day & Co. news release, December 19, 2011.

[302] “Watch Libyan rendition victim Abdel Hakim Belhadj talk to the European Parliament,”, April 12, 2012, at 0:16 and 2:30, (accessed on June 15, 2012).

[303] “Joint statement by the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Metropolitan Police Service,” Crown Prosecution news release.

[304] Human Rights Watch interview with Belhadj, Abu Salim Prison, Tripoli, April 27, 2009.

[305] “Watch Libyan rendition victim Abdel Hakim Belhadj talk to the European Parliament,”

[306] Cobain, “Special report: Rendition ordeal that raises new questions about secret trials,” The Guardian.

[307] Ibid.

[308] “Libyan Rebel Leader Sues British Government for Illegal Rendition to Libya,” Leigh Day & Co. news release, December 19, 2011.

[309] Cobain, “Special report: Rendition ordeal that raises new questions about secret trials,” The Guardian.

[310] Human Rights Watch Interview with Belhadj, Tripoli, Libya, March 28, 2012.

[311] Ibid.

[312] Human Rights Watch interview with Belhadj, Abu Salim Prison, Tripoli, April 27, 2009.

[313] Kim Sengupta, “Libyan rebel leader says MI6 knew he was tortured,” The Independent, September 6, 2011, (accessed May 2, 2012).

[314] Ibid.

[315] Ibid.

[316] Ibid.; See also, Chulov, “MI6 knew I was tortured, says Libyan rebel leader,” The Guardian.

[317] Human Rights Watch interview with Belhadj, Abu Salim Prison, Tripoli, April 27, 2009.

[318] Human Rights Watch Interview with Belhadj, Tripoli, Libya, March 28, 2012.

[319] “Watch Libyan rendition victim Abdel Hakim Belhadj talk to the European Parliament,”

[320]“Libya: 202 Prisoners Released But Hundreds Still Held Arbitrarily,” Human Rights Watch news release, March 25, 2010,

[321] Tawil, “The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group's revisions: one year later,” Magharebia, LIFG spiritual leader Saadi and Deputy LIFG leader Sharif were released along with Belhadj. The three of them co-authored a document entitled “Corrective Studies in Understanding Jihad Accountability and the Judgment of the People,” in which they renounced the use of force to achieve political aims. Saadi and Sharif were both interviewed for this report (see below); See also a text of selected translations of “Corrective Studies in Understanding Jihad, Accountability and the Judgment of People” in Mohammed Ali Musawi, “Selected Translation of the LIFG Recantation Document,” Quilliam 2009, (accessed June 19, 2012); See also, “Watch Libyan rendition victim Abdel Hakim Belhadj talk to the European Parliament,”

[322] Human Rights Watch Interview with Belhadj, Tripoli, Libya, March 28, 2012.

[323] Rod Nordland, “In Libya, Former Enemy Is Recast in Role of Ally,” New York Times, September 1, 2011, (accessed August 27, 2012).

[324]  Aymehn Jawad al-Tamimi, “Rethinking Libya,” The American Spectator.

[325] Ibid.

[326]Sami Mostefa al-Saadi’s name is sometimes spelled “es-Saidi” or “Essaadi.” He also went by the names of “Abu Munder,” sometimes spelled “Abu Munthir” or “Abu Mundir,” and “Hisham Mohamaed.”

[327] Human Rights Watch interview with Saadi, Tripoli, Libya, March 14, 2012.

[328] Tawil, Brothers in Arms, p. 53.

[329] “Claim on Behalf of Sami al-Saadi Against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSARG),” June 12, 2012,,%20al%20Saadi%20v%20Hong%20Kong,%2012%20Jun%202012%5D.pdf (accessed June 17, 2012).

[330] For an account of this killing, see Hilsum, Sandstorm, p. 96-97.

[331] Saadi talked more expansively about this to The Guardian. While in China in March 2004, he said he was approached by British intelligence officers via an intermediary in the UK and was told that he would be permitted to return to London. First, however, he would have to be interviewed at the British consulate in Hong Kong and would be met by British diplomats on his arrival. Ian Cobain, Mustafa Khalili and Mona Mahmood, “How MI6 deal sent family to Gaddafi’s jail,” September 9, 2009, (accessed June 17, 2012).

[332] Human Rights Watch interview with Kadija al-Saadi, Tripoli, Libya, March 25, 2012.

[333] Ibid.

[334] Tripoli Documents 2162-2163.

[335] Tripoli Documents 2162-2163.

[336] Ibid.

[337] Ibid.

[338] Ibid.

[339] Ibid.

[340] Tripoli Documents 2280-2283, 2300-2311 (only relevant pages, with the exception of the birth certificate which is not included, of the 32 page fax are contained herein). The document seems to have been sent to the Hong Kong Authorities by the Libyan government, given that the letter is signed by “NCB Tripoli” (see Document2281). It was contained in the folder marked UK. Perhaps the Libyans faxed a copy of what had been sent to the Hong Kong authorities to the UK government in order to show they had complied with Hong Kong’s demands.

[341] Tripoli Documents 2162-2163.

[342] Tripoli Documents 2156-2158.

[343] Ibid.

[344] Human Rights Watch interview with Saadi, Tripoli, Libya, March 14, 2012.

[345] Ibid.

[346] Ibid.

[347] Ibid.

[348] “Leigh Day Represent Victim of Gaddafi Regime,” Leigh Day & Co. news release, October 25, 2011, (accessed May 28, 2012).

[349] “Libyan politician questioned by British police over rendition allegations,” Leigh Day & Co Solicitors news release, July 19, 2012,, (accessed August 28, 2012).

[350] “Libyan rendition victim Sami al Saadi launches legal action against Hong Kong,” Reprieve news release, June 17, 2012.

[351] Omar Ashour, “Libya’s Defeated Islamists,” July 17, 2012, (accessed on July 18, 2012) (In response to the election results Saadi stated, “We certainly did not expect the results, but ... our future is certainly better than our present and our past.”); see also Aymehn Jawad al-Tamimi, “Rethinking Libya,” The American Spectator, July 12, 2012, (accessed July 25, 2012).

[352]Muhammed Abu Farsan’s name is sometimes spelled “Mohammed Abu Fursin” or “Abufersin.” He has also gone by the name of Abu Zinad.

[353] Human Rights Watch interview with Muhammed Abu Farsan, Tripoli, Libya, March 26, 2012.

[354] Tripoli document 2268.

[355] Ibid.

[356] The UN Committee against Torture has held that under article 3 of the Convention against Torture, which prohibits the return or extradition of a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be subjected to torture, the risk of torture must be assessed not just for the initial receiving state, but also to states to which the person may be subsequently expelled, returned, or extradited. UN Committee against Torture, “Implementation of article 3 of the Convention in the context of article 22,” General Comment No. 1, U.N. Doc. 11/21/1997.A/53/44, annex IX, CAT General Comment No. 01. (General Comments), (accessed June 26, 2012), para. 2.

[357] See above, “Libyan Islamic Fighting Group” part of the “Background” section.