The British government has formally apologized to a former Libyan rebel leader and his wife, who were kidnapped by CIA agents in 2004 with the help of the British intelligence service MI6 and rendered to Libya, where they faced severe torture in one of Muammar Gaddafi’s prisons. Britain’s attorney general read a formal statement of apology from the House of Commons Thursday, saying the government was “profoundly sorry” for the treatment of Abdelhakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar. The couple rejected an offer of a half-million-pound payout and instead spent years fighting for an apology. Belhaj said Thursday his case should serve as a warning to other torturers.
Abdelhakim Belhaj: “My message is to all governments who carry out torture and who do not recognize human rights and violate this legitimate right. We must all unite together and raise our voices and work toward achieving this humanitarian requirement, which is the implementation of human rights.”
Belhaj’s wife Fatima Boudchar was pregnant at the time of her kidnapping and rendition. In an op-ed in The New York Times on May 8 headlined “I Have a Few Questions for Gina Haspel,” she called on Trump’s nominee for CIA chief to account for her role in the agency’s torture and rendition program.