LONDON — A former Libyan dissident and his family have accepted £2.2 million ($3.5 million) from the British government to settle a claim that the UK approved their rendition to face imprisonment by Muammar Qadhafi’s regime, the family’s lawyers said Thursday.
It is the latest in a series of costly payouts resulting from Britain’s involvement in the US-led “war on terror” in the years after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Sami Al Saadi had been suing the British government and spy agency MI6 over their alleged role in his 2004 abduction in Hong Kong and transfer to Libya, where he says he was detained and tortured for years. His wife and four children, aged 12 and under, were also unwillingly sent to Libya.
British ministers have always denied any complicity in rendition or torture.
Britain’s Foreign Office confirmed the settlement, but not the amount — and did not admit responsibility. “There has been no admission of liability and no finding by any court of liability,” it said.
In a statement issued by law firm Leigh Day and Co., Al Saadi said he was accepting the settlement because “my family has suffered enough.”
“They will now have the chance to complete their education in the new, free Libya,” he said. “I will be able to afford the medical care I need because of the injuries I suffered in prison.”
Although the British government had never admitted guilt, “I think the payment speaks for itself”, Saadi said.
In 2010, Britain paid millions of pounds in settlements to 16 former Guantanamo Bay detainees who alleged UK complicity in their harsh treatment overseas, though the government did not admit any liability.
Another Libyan, Islamist leader Abdel-Hakim Belhaj, is suing former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw over his detention in Bangkok in 2004 and subsequent rendition.
Information about the renditions emerged after Qadhafi’s fall in 2011. Documents were discovered that disclosed the cozy working ties between Qadhafi’s spies and Western intelligence officials.