Allegations of CIA Torture in Libya as Spy Chief Returns
Interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch with 14 Libyans detained in the years following the September 11 terrorist attacks contain allegations of CIA waterboarding and other extreme interrogation techniques. The interviews were published in a new report on torture in Libya, which also draws on troves of documents uncovered following the overthrow of President Muammar al-Qadhafi. The claims clashed with official CIA statements that there are only “three substantiated cases in which detainees were subjected to the waterboarding techniques,” none of which involved Libyans. The HRW report detailed several other forms of abuse during months of interrogations carried out in Libyan jails by intelligence officers from the United States, Great Britain, Italy and France.
One Libyan official wanted for torture and crimes against humanity, former Intelligence Chief Abdullah al-Senussi, was returned to Libya from Mauritania following an extradition agreement between the two countries. Al-Senussi, the brother-in-law of al-Qadhafi, was arrested in Mauritania in March after he fled Libya during the uprising, but it took promises of extensive Libyan aid to Mauritania for the West African state to agree to the handover. Al-Senussi is “one of the word’s most wanted men,” facing charges by Libya, France and the ICC in connection with incidents ranging from the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 to the 1996 Abu Salim prison massacre that left 1,200 inmates dead. Interim Prime Minister Abdurrahim al-Kib has resisted calls to turn al-Senussi over to the ICC, insisting that he “will receive a fair trial in Libya.” High-profile trials for two other Libyan officials from the al-Qadhafi regime are scheduled to begin September 10.
Finally, the Libyan National Congress is set to elect a new Prime Minister next Wednesday in an eight-way race that pits a range of Islamist candidates against several more secular lawmakers, including the former head of the National Transition Council Mahmud Jibril. The internal election will be a test case for the 200-seat National Congress, which includes 120 members elected from an independent list of candidates and whose ideological leanings remain largely unknown.