Assurances sought on suspect's rights, fax shows

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 September, 2011, 12:00am


A top secret fax marked 'US only except Libya' and dated 2004 reveals that Hong Kong authorities demanded a guarantee that a suspected Libyan terrorist, his wife and four young children would not be tortured or killed if they were deported to Tripoli.

Classified documents uncovered last week in Tripoli show how desperate the CIA was in its bid to ensure Sami al-Saadi and his family were sent from Hong Kong to Libya, with advice on how to 'persuade' local authorities to approve the rendition flight.

A three-page fax titled 'Rendition of Abu Munthir' - Saadi's nom de guerre - and dated March 23, 2004, 2.30am, details the sequence of events following the detention a few days earlier of Saadi and his family by Hong Kong authorities for 'immigration/passport violations'.

The fax reveals that the Hong Kong 'special wing' initially denied landing permission for a plane that was intended to take Munthir and his family to Libya because it was a Libyan-registered aircraft.

'If your government were to charter a foreign aircraft from a third country, the Hong Kong government may be able to co-ordinate with you to render Abu Munthir and his family into your custody,' the fax states.

The CIA offers to foot the bill for this extra flight but only if assurances are given that Munthir and his family will not be harmed during the rendition.

The document, written entirely in upper case, suggests the recipients provide the Hong Kong authorities with 'significant detail' on Munthir such as his terrorist or criminal acts and why he is a wanted man as a way to bypass the 'variety of legal constraints regarding deportation and custody of aliens' in Hong Kong.

The fax also urges the recipients to provide details on who would be accompanying Munthir on the flight, how many officers would be on board, and how the deportation would be carried out.

It shows that the Hong Kong authorities demanded assurances that Munthir and his family would be 'treated humanely and in accordance with human rights standards'. 'Specifically, the Hong Kong government must have a stipulation before Abu Munthir could be turned over that he will not be subject to the death penalty in Libya,' the fax reads.

'In short, we believe that a detailed and well-crafted plan must be presented to the Hong Kong government in order to persuade them to convey Abu Munthir and family into your custody'.

The recipient of the fax was also urged to contact Stanley Ying Yiu-hong, the then permanent secretary for security, as soon as possible to speed up approval of the rendition.

Ying, a long-standing government official who joined the administration straight after graduating from the University of Hong Kong in 1983, had been promoted to that position just six months earlier.

In the fax, Ying - now a treasury official and an Ocean Park board member - is referred to as the 'principle secretary of security', and a 24-hour phone number and a fax number for his office are provided.

Questions filed to the Security Bureau and Ying by the Post yesterday went unanswered.

Another document which surfaced last week was a two-page un-dated resume which listed personal details of Saadi including his place and date of birth, alias, mother's name and passport number.

It also said that he was married to an Algerian woman and included information about his children.

The resume says Saadi arrived in Pakistan in March 1991 with an 18-month visa, received military training within six months of his arrival and lived near Osama bin Laden.

The document connected Saadi with a terrorist leader in Algeria and said that during his time in Britain, he was a 'co-ordinator between the Palestinian and Egyptian extremists'.

The resume included a headshot of Saadi and said he had been captured by Hong Kong authorities with a forged French passport. It also alleges that Saadi received training in forgery and terrorist operations in bin Laden's camps as well as in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sudan.

Path to Gaddafi's jail


Sami al-Saadi born Tripoli, Libya


Active in Libyan mujahideen groups, Saadi enters Pakistan and trains in mountain camps; operates in circles close to Osama bin Laden. Known as Abu Munthir.


Active in anti-Gaddafi Islamist groups, seeks asylum in UK.


Weekend of March 20-21

Continues exile in China. Makes contact with MI6 through UK-based middleman, wanting to return to Britain. Enters Hong Kong on advice of M16 with wife and four children. Detained.

March 23

CIA fax sent to Tripoli, detailing Hong Kong government demands for assurances and a non-Libyan plane to deport Saadi.

March 25

British Prime Minister Tony Blair meets Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

March 28

Saadi and family put on Egyptian-registered plane at Chek Lap Kok and deported to Tripoli. Family jailed for two months, Saadi for six years.