Payment speaks for itself, says Libyan dissident

Sami al-Saadi, who was flown from Hong Kong to Libya, welcomes compensation ruling in UK

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 December, 2012, 5:02am


The Libyan dissident at the heart of a Hong Kong rendition case welcomed the UK's decision to compensate him yesterday, saying the "payment speaks for itself".

British government ministers agreed to pay more than £2m to Sami al-Saadi, who was abducted with the help of MI6 from Hong Kong and secretly flown to Tripoli where he was tortured by the regime of the former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The government paid the sum by way of compensation and without admitting any liability.

"My family will now have the chance to complete their education in the new, free Libya. I will be able to afford the medical care I need because of the injuries I suffered in prison." Saadi said.

"Even now, the British government has never given an answer to the simple question: 'Were you involved in the kidnap of me, my wife and my children?' The payment speaks for itself."

Evidence of the UK and Hong Kong's role in the operation came to light after Gaddafi's fall in 2011.

Hong Kong has been described as the "proverbial scene of the crime" in the case. Stanley Ying Yiu-hong, who was the permanent secretary for security at the time, was listed in top secret documents about the rendition as a key contact to ensure it was carried out quickly.

Ying is on indefinite leave for family reasons and could not be contacted for a comment.

The secret dossier also listed contact details for Madonna Fung from the Hong Kong Business Aviation Centre as an intermediary to help with the logistics of the rendition.

Fung, currently general manager of private jet hub at Chek Lap Kok, was customer services manager of the centre in 2004.

Cori Crider, of charity Reprieve, said this year: "Correspondence from the Gaddafi regime shows Hong Kong officials were heavily involved, advising foreign spies how the kidnap could best be managed with minimum of fuss in Hong Kong".

However, James To Kun-sun, vice-chairman of Legco's security panel, said it would be more difficult to sue the Hong Kong government. "Its role is not a planner, like the UK government. It's only a facilitator."

The operation was arranged at the time of Tony Blair's "deal in the desert" with Gaddafi, after which UK intelligence services helped hand over his opponents.

Kat Craig, of Reprieve, said: "We now know that Tony Blair's 'deal in the desert' was bought with ugly compromises. Perhaps the ugliest was for MI6 to deliver a whole family to one of the world's most brutal dictators."