For Immediate Release
Supreme Court To Hear Libya Torture Secrecy Challenge
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court will hear a landmark challenge to attempts by the Government to conceal the role of a top MI6 officer in renditions to Libya. Senior judges have given permission for a “leapfrog” appeal by two victims of rendition and torture direct to the UK’s highest court. The case will be heard in just over three weeks, on 22 March.
The challenge is being brought by Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar who were kidnapped, rendered to Libya and tortured by the CIA with the knowledge and assistance of MI6 in 2004. The couple are currently involved in legal proceedings challenging the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions not to charge a senior MI6 officer, Sir Mark Allen, over his involvement in their ordeal.
The Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, as the minister responsible for the foreign intelligence service, has applied to hold proceedings in secret under draconian powers in the Justice and Security Act 2013. Mr Belhaj and Ms Boudchar, their lawyers, journalists and the public are all banned from attending these hearings.
These powers were granted by Parliament solely for use in non-criminal proceedings and the Supreme Court will be asked to rule that they cannot be used in a legal action relating to a potential prosecution of an MI6 officer.
Cori Crider, attorney for Mr Belhaj and Ms Boudchar at Reprieve, said:
“Abdul-Hakim and Fatima have already had to beat the government once in the Supreme Court, and they'll go back as many times as it takes for open justice. Ministers hope to whisper in the judge’s ear about the real reason one of their top MI6 officers was let off the hook for his role in the rendition of a pregnant woman. But criminal matters were explicitly carved out of the Justice and Security Act, and rightly so. With something this serious we, the British public, have a right to know what was done in our name.”
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Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.