Gaddafi okayed U.S. Prisoner Airlifts for torture, Rights Group finds
Sep. 6 (GIN) - Islamic militant suspects were secretly shipped to Libya for harsh interrogation after 9/11 under a U.S. program called "extraordinary rendition," it was revealed this week by the New York-based group Human Rights Watch.
The program was outlined in hundreds of letters recently discovered in the now-abandoned office of Moussa Koussa, former foreign minister and head of Libyan intelligence who defected to Britain in February.
The documents expose how the CIA turned over suspects to Libyan authorities knowing they would be tortured.
"Eight or nine individuals" were delivered to Libya, according to the rights group, and not just for questioning, said Peter Bouckaert of HRW in Tripoli. "The CIA also sent the questions they wanted Libyan intelligence to ask. And from the files it's very clear that they were present in some of the interrogations themselves."
The practice of torture to obtain information, while not permitted at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, received a green light from President Gaddafi in Tripoli, the documents reveal. In return, Libya's secret service reportedly received specific information about Libyan dissidents and was even assisted with the deportations of exiled dissidents back to Libya.
"What's remarkable is the friendly tone of these files," observed Bouchaert. "U.S. and British intelligence agents thank Musa Kusa for the crate of oranges and dates that he sent back with the intelligence agent who came to visit. And all of the-these are letters, 'Dear Musa' letters, to a man who is infamous in Libya for his involvement in repression."
Meanwhile, in an unrelated development, top Gaddafi aides are reportedly taking refuge in neighboring Niger where the former Libyan president has close ties with the Tuareg nomads. Some African countries continue to recognize Colonel Gaddafi as Libya's leader. Niger's government, however, has recognized the anti-Gaddafi National Transitional Council as the country's legitimate authority.