Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

UK HELPED GADDAFI TORTURE YOU - WE'RE SO SORRY; PM APOLOGISES UNRESERVEDLY TO DICTATOR'S OPPONENT FOR MI6 ROLE IN KIDNAP UNDER BLAIRTorture after Blair's 'Deal in Desert'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

UK HELPED GADDAFI TORTURE YOU - WE'RE SO SORRY; PM APOLOGISES UNRESERVEDLY TO DICTATOR'S OPPONENT FOR MI6 ROLE IN KIDNAP UNDER BLAIRTorture after Blair's 'Deal in Desert'

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicholas Cecil and Joe Murphy

THERESA MAY today issued an unprecedented apology over Britain's role in the kidnap of a Libyan dissident who was tortured by Muammar Gaddafi's brutal regime.

The Prime Minister said the Government was "profoundly sorry" for the ordeal suffered by Abdel Hakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar. Mrs May said the Government "sincerely regretted" the "failures" over the case and the "missed opportunities" to alleviate their Continued on Page 6 Continued from Page 1 suffering. Mr Belhaj, 52, who was leader of the rebel Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, claims MI6 helped the US kidnap him in Thailand in 2004 to return him and his pregnant wife to Libya.

The operation followed Tony Blair's infamous "deal in the desert" with the Libyan dictator. The couple have been suing the Government, former Labour foreign secretary Jack Straw, and former head of counter-terrorism at MI6 Sir Mark Allen.

Attorney General Jeremy Wright today announced that a settlement had been reached after he personally spoke to Mr Belhaj and his wife about the "detention, rendition and harrowing experiences" that they suffered.

In a letter to the couple, Mrs May wrote: "Your accounts were moving and what happened to you is deeply troubling. It is clear that you were both subjected to appalling treatment and that you suffered greatly, not least the affront to the dignity of Ms Boudchar, who was pregnant at the time.

"The UK Government believes your accounts. Neither of you should have been treated in this way."

The Prime Minister accepted that the UK Government's actions had "contributed" to the "detention, rendition and suffering" of the pair. She added: "The UK Government shared information about you with its international partners. We should have done more to reduce the risk that you would be mistreated. We accept this was a failing on our part. Later, during your detention in Libya, we sought information about and from you. …

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