LONDON : A British judge on Friday ruled that a Libyan man who claims Britain was complicit in his torture by Moamer Kadhafi's regime cannot sue the authorities in an English court. High Court judge Peregrine Simon said Abdul-Hakim Belhaj had a "well-founded claim" against intelligence officers and former foreign secretary Jack Straw, but that because it involved four foreign states, it was beyond the jurisdiction of the English courts. Leigh Day, the legal firm representing Belhaj, said they were seeking an appeal against the ruling, which they said was made in order not to "damage relations with the US".
Belhaj, who became Tripoli's military commander after the Libyan leader was ousted in the 2011 revolution, claims British involvement in his illegal rendition.
He and his wife were detained by American intelligence officers at Bangkok airport in Thailand in 2004 when Belhaj was leader of the anti-Kadhafi Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.
The couple were then taken to Tripoli, where Belhaj was jailed for six years. Files unearthed from Kadhafi's archives after his fall suggest he was captured due to a British tip-off.
He launched legal action against the British government, MP Jack Straw and Mark Allen, former head of counter-terrorism at intelligence agency MI6.
The defendants argued that evidence should not be heard because the actions took place with the assistance of other states.
Judge Simon accepted this argument "with hesitation", and said he was concerned that "a potentially well-founded claim that the UK authorities were directly implicated in the extra-ordinary rendition of the claimants, will not be determined in any domestic court.
"Parliamentary oversight and criminal investigations are not adequate substitutes for access to, and a decision by, the court," he added.
Speaking from Tripoli, Belhaj said the judge "was obviously horrified by what happened to my wife and I".
"But he thought the law stopped him hearing our case because it might embarrass the Americans," he added, according to a statement released by Leigh Day.
"I believe that the British justice system, which I admire greatly, is better than that. My wife and I will continue to seek the truth."