Files Show CIA Worked Closely with Libyan Spy Agency

Documents suggest the agency sent terrorism suspects, despite reports of torture

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The files left behind by the head of Col. Muammar Qaddafi's spy agency suggest that the Central Intelligence Agency worked closely with the Libyan government, and may have sent terrorism suspects to the north African nation, despite the country's reputation for torturing dissidents.

The story told by the spy documents plays out across major international news outlets, which note that the temporary warming of U.S. officials to Libya in the last decade had been widely known, especially since the country abandoned its nuclear proliferation efforts. But the extent of the CIA's cooperation with Libya's spying apparatus had been a key secret.

From The New York Times:

Although it has been known that Western intelligence services began cooperating with Libya after it abandoned its program to build unconventional weapons in 2004, the files left behind as Tripoli fell to rebels show that the cooperation was much more extensive than generally known with both the C.I.A. and its British equivalent, MI-6.
Some documents indicate that the British agency was even willing to trace phone numbers for the Libyans, and another appears to be a proposed speech written by the Americans for Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi about renouncing unconventional weapons.

The documents were discovered "by journalists and Human Rights Watch," in a handful of looseleaf binders left behind as the Qaddafi regime fled, The Times reports. The discovery would also suggest that Libyan record-keeping was perhaps not as covert as it could have been. One of the binders was marked "C.I.A.," and the other two were marked "MI-6," the names of the intelligence agencies of the U.S. and the United Kingdom, respectively.

The papers were found in the offices of Moussa Koussa, the former spy chief, and they brought immediate condemnation of the Western governments for condoning mistreatment of suspects.

From the BBC:

Human Rights Watch, whose workers helped to discover the papers, accused the CIA of condoning torture.
"It wasn't just abducting suspected Islamic militants and handing them over to the Libyan intelligence," said Peter Bouckaert of HRW.
"The CIA also sent the questions they wanted Libyan intelligence to ask and, from the files, it's very clear they were present in some of the interrogations themselves," he said.
The papers outline the rendition of several suspects, including one that Human Rights Watch has identified as Abdel Hakim Belhaj, known in the documents as Abdullah al-Sadiq, who is now the military commander of the anti-Gaddafi forces in Tripoli.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.