Libyan dissident Belhaj wins right to sue British government

Libyan dissident Belhaj wins right to sue British government
2 min read
17 January, 2017
Abdul-Hakim Belhaj has won the right to sue British ex-foreign secretary Jack Straw over allegations that the UK government allowed the Gaddafi regime to torture him.
Abdel Hakim Belhaj was one of the leaders of the uprising against Gaddafi [Getty]

Britain’s highest court has backed a ruling allowing former Libyan dissident Abdul-Hakim Belhaj to sue the UK government for its role in his 'abduction and torture' more than a decade ago.

Belhaj and his wife Fatima Bouchar have accused the British government of allowing the Gaddafi regime to torture them in 2004, alleging both MI6 and former British foreign secretary Jack Straw’s complicity in US-led rendition programmes.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the British government, blocking the damages claim by Belhaj – one of the leaders of the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi.

After being returned to Libya, Belhaj spent six years in jail, while his wife was released shortly before giving birth.

Their lawyers argue that they were the victims of secret rendition in a joint MI6/CIA operation and are entitled to justice for "abuse at the hands of our government".

They added that Belhaj is determined to sue unless he receives an apology and a token £1 in damages.

However, the ex-British foreign secretary rejects claims that he had been aware of the rendition.

In a statement, Straw said: "At no stage so far have the merits of the applicant's case been tested before any court... As foreign secretary I acted at all times in a manner which was fully consistent with my legal duties, and with national and international law. I was never in any way complicit in the unlawful rendition or detention of anyone by other states."