Libyan dissident sues HK over family's 2004 arrest

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 June, 2012, 12:00am


A Libyan dissident, arrested by local authorities at Chek Lap Kok airport and handed to late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi's henchmen, is suing the Hong Kong government for its complicity in his 'extraordinary rendition'.

Sami al-Saadi is seeking damages and full disclosure of documents relating to his and his family's arrest by local authorities, with the help of US and UK secret agents, in March 2004.

Saadi, his wife and four young children - all under 13 years old at the time - were held for almost two weeks in Hong Kong before they were bundled onto a Libya-bound plane.

Saadi was then tortured and beaten at Tajoura prison where he spent the next three years. His family was also jailed for several months in the same prison.

Solicitor Jonathan Man, of law firm Ho, Tse, Wai & Partners, confirmed that a 12-page letter detailing the legal action was hand-delivered to the Department of Justice yesterday.

The firm has a six-member team working on the case under instructions from London-based human rights law firm Reprieve.

Cori Crider, of Reprieve, which is also suing the UK government on behalf of Saadi, said Hong Kong's involvement was key to the case.

'Correspondence seized from the fallen Gaddafi regime shows Hong Kong officials were heavily involved in this illegal operation, advising foreign spies how the kidnap could best be managed with a minimum of fuss in Hong Kong,' Crider said.

'Rendition to Gaddafi's Libya would have been a terrifying ordeal for any grown man, so it is unimaginable what it was like for [Saadi's daughter] Khadidja al-Saadi, a 12-year-old girl, and her three younger siblings. All the al-Saadi family seek now is justice and accountability for those responsible, so other families never face the awful fate they did.'

In the letter, lawyers claim that Saadi and his family were subjected to 'unlawful detention' as well as 'inhuman and degrading treatment' in Hong Kong.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice refused to confirm if it had received the letter, saying: 'We don't comment on individual cases.' The Security Bureau also refused to comment.

The case only came to light last August after Saadi was freed from one of Gaddafi's prisons by rebels and after secret papers were discovered at the headquarters of Gaddafi's intelligence chief Moussa Koussa.

In the secret documents, the then permanent secretary for security, Stanley Ying Yiu-hong, is listed as the contact person to ensure the rendition is executed quickly. Last month, the Post sought to obtain any documents held by the Security Bureau relating to Saadi's case but a spokeswoman said no such records existed.