Rights group: Evidence of wider U.S. waterboarding

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Eight of those interviewed were handed over to Libya in 2004 — the same year then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a public rapprochement with Gadhafi and Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell signed a major exploration deal off the Libyan coast, the HRW report noted. The remaining six were transferred to Libya over the two following years.

All were jailed by Gadhafi’s regime, most of them freed only after his fall. Most said they were not physically tortured — perhaps a result of Gadhafi’s attempts to mend fences with the West — but were kept in solitary confinement for long periods. Several, however, told HRW they were beaten and tortured, including being given electrical shocks.

The report also calls into question Libyan claims that one figure handed over by the Americans, Ibn el-Sheikh al-Libi, committed suicide in a Libyan prison. Al-Libi was held in U.S. secret prisons for years after 2001 and gave information under torture by the Egyptians that the Bush administration used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq but was later discredited. After his handover, Libyan authorities said he hanged himself in his cell, but HRW researchers said they were shown photos of his body that showed signs of torture.

Messages to Libya from the CIA and British intelligence among the Tripoli Documents published by HRW indicated the United States and Britain were eager to help Libya obtain several senior LIFG figures, including its co-founders, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi.

Mr. Belhaj and his then-pregnant wife were detained by Malaysia with the help of British intelligence and then handed over to the CIA in Thailand, where he told HRW he was stripped and beaten. They were then taken to Libya, where Mr. Belhaj was imprisoned.

After Mr. Belhaj arrived in Libya, a message believed to be from the then-head of counterterrorism at British intelligence congratulates the Libyan intelligence chief. Britain’s help “was the least we could do for you and for Libya to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built,” he wrote.

AP reporter Adam Goldman in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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