Fatima Boudchar, wife of Abdel Hakim Belhaj, supports the letter of apology of Prime Minister Theresa May during a press conference offered before the British Parliament, this Thursday, May 10 in London
The British government on Thursday apologized to the Islamist Abdel Hakim Belhaj for participating in his kidnapping in Thailand in 2004 and his surrender to the Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi, who subjected him to torture.
“The acts of the British government contributed to his arrest, surrender and suffering (…) On behalf of His Majesty’s government, I apologize without nuance,” Prime Minister Theresa May said in a letter to Belhaj and his wife, read in Parliament by Attorney General Jeremy Wright.
Through their lawyers in the United Kingdom, the couple congratulated themselves on the government’s decision.
“I greet and accept the apologies of the Prime Minister, and extend to the Attorney General my thanks and sincere good will,” said the dissident, and then military commander of the Libyan rebellion, in a statement released by the law firm Leigh Day. Belhaj currently lives in Istanbul.
Fatima Boudchar, who was in Parliament when the prosecutor read the letter, said: “I thank the British government for the apology and for having invited my son and me to the United Kingdom to listen to them.” I accept the apology.
Belhaj, a former leader of the opposition Islamic Fighting Group, spent more than six years in a jail of the regime of the ousted Muammar Gaddafi after being kidnapped in Thailand by the British and American secret services.
Belhaj was imprisoned in the famous prison of Abu Selim, where he says he was interrogated by British intelligence agents.
“They injected me with something, they hung me on a wall by my arms and legs, and they put me in a container, surrounded by ice,” he explained in 2011 to The Guardian newspaper, describing his time in prison.
“They would not let me sleep, and there was noise all the time, they tortured me regularly,” he added. “I am surprised that the British were involved in this very painful period of my life,” he said.
The British government accepted in its letter that the couple “was subjected to a heartbreaking suffering that caused them significant distress” and revealed that they had reached an agreement with the couple.
The woman will receive compensation of 500,000 pounds (570,000 euros, 678,000 dollars), while Belhaj did not seek compensation, but only an apology.
Boudchar was four and a half months pregnant when she was abducted with her husband, and explained that she was tied to a stretcher during the 17-hour trip to Tripoli. She was released shortly after having her son.
“We should have understood beforehand the unacceptable practices of some of our international allies, we sincerely regret our failures,” the prime minister added in her letter, alluding to the regime of Gaddafi, overthrown and executed in 2011.