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UK probes MI5 Gaddafi connection

22 April 2012, 21:12

London - Britain said on Sunday it would "take seriously" claims that British spies worked with Libyan counterparts to betray opponents of Muammar Gaddafi and lure al-Qaeda militants to a radical mosque.

The claims were made by two British newspapers who cited documents unearthed from Libyan archives after the Gaddafi regime was toppled last year.

The Mail on Sunday said documents revealed that in 2006, agents from Britain's domestic intelligence agency MI5 provided Libyan spies with intelligence about dissidents who had fled to Britain.

"The documents disclose that MI5 betrayed the confidentiality that all refugees are promised when they apply for asylum," the paper said.

Spies also provided the Libyan agents with secure mobile phones and a luxurious safe house in London's plush Knightsbridge district, the Mail added.

The Sunday Telegraph claimed MI6, the international intelligence agency, worked with Gaddafi's agents in around 2004 to establish a radical mosque in an unnamed European city that could lure al-Qaeda members.

A spokesperson for the Home Office, Britain's interior ministry, said: "We do not know the full details of these cases, but we take such claims seriously."

Parliament's intelligence and security committee was looking into the government's relationship with Libya "and will take account of any allegations raised by these reports", he added.

The alleged co-operation would in both cases have occurred during Tony Blair's premiership in Britain.

The Labour leader, prime minister between 1997 and 2007, re-opened diplomatic links with Libya after his so-called "deal in the desert" talks with Gaddafi in 2004.

On Wednesday, two Libyans who accuse Britain of having been complicit in their torture by Gaddafi agents announced they were taking legal action against former foreign minister Jack Straw.

Abdelhakim Belhaj, who became Tripoli's military commander after the Libyan leader was ousted in last year's revolution, and fellow Gaddafi opponent Sami al-Saadi both allege British involvement in their illegal rendition in 2004.



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