Sami al Saadi, an opponent of the Gaddafi regime, was rendered along with his family into the hands of the then-Libyan Government by British intelligence in 2004. Mr al Saadi was subsequently imprisoned and tortured for a number of years, until his ultimate release following the Libyan revolution in 2011.
The al Saadi family brought a claim against MI5, MI6, the Attorney General, the Foreign Office and the Home Office for their complicity in their extraordinary rendition from Hong Kong to Tripoli in March 2004; and in Mr al Saadi’s subsequent unlawful detention, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, batteries and assaults perpetrated by the Libyan authorities.
In December 2012, the al Saadi family accepted a settlement from the UK Government over their role in forcibly ‘rendering’ them to Gaddafi’s Libya.
Sami al Saadi (also known as Abu Munthir) has described how, during their rendition, he saw his young daughter lose consciousness and his wife “screaming as they were handcuffed”; upon reaching Libya he was separated from his family and imprisoned. His children were aged 12, 11, 9 and 6 years old at the time.
Documents discovered after the overthrow of Gaddafi show that British personnel were instrumental in the detention of Sami Al Saadi in Hong Kong and his subsequent rendition to Libya in 2004, where he was subjected to years of torture. The documents also support Mr Al Saadi’s claim that UK agents interrogated him whilst he was in secret detention in Libya.
Since coming to light, Mr Al Saadi’s case has become notorious. It is one of few known examples of the rendition of an entire family, including young children, to a country where British intelligence must have known they would face torture.
It is also significant in showing UK officials not simply assisting but actively organising an illegal rendition. A March 2004 fax from the CIA to Libyan intelligence confirms that Libyans were “cooperating with the British to effect [Sami al Saadi’s] removal to Tripoli.”