The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) has voted to declassify their report on the CIA’s unlawful torture programme. Abdelhakim Belhadj, a Libyan anti-Gaddafi dissident who was rendered and tortured – along with his pregnant wife, Fatima Boudchar – in a CIA-MI6 operation in 2004, (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/20369) expressed his relief at the decision.
Mr Belhadj said: “My wife and I welcome the decision to declassify this report. She and I were tortured at a CIA black site in Bangkok before being shipped to one of Gaddafi's most notorious prisons. At the time my wife was several months pregnant. We have promised one another not to rest until we find justice - not for vengeance' sake, but for the sake of the new democracy we fought so hard for.”
The couple were detained in China in February 2004 and flown to Bangkok, where they were held by US agents. Ms Boudchar, despite her pregnancy, was chained to a wall and later taped tightly to a stretcher, blindfolded and hooded. Mr Belhadj was held in a ‘black site,’ where he was repeatedly beaten, hung from the wall and subjected to sleep deprivation.
Eventually, both were ‘rendered’ to Gaddafi’s Libya where Mr Belhadj, as an opponent of the dictator, faced years of imprisonment and torture.
The couple’s case came to light after correspondence between Sir Mark Allen, then a senior MI6 officer, and Colonel Gaddafi’s spy chief was found following the 2011 Libyan revolution. In it, Sir Mark refers to the US part in the operation, saying “I know I did not pay for the air cargo,” but emphasising that the "the intelligence on [Mr Belhadj] was British.” Belhadj is taking legal action against the UK Government over their part in his illegal rendition to Libya in 2004, claiming complicity in his torture.
Reprieve US Counsel Alka Pradhan said: “We cannot learn from history unless we know what it is. It is well past time for the CIA to be held publicly accountable for its disastrous mistakes in the so-called 'War on Terror'. After years of CIA deceit, the White House must allow the American people to judge for themselves whether the crimes committed in our name were justified. President Obama can now deliver on his promise of transparency, by declassifying not only the Executive Summary but the full report into what went wrong at the CIA."