[JURIST] A former high-value US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] detainee died in a Libyan prison Tuesday. Ali Mohamed Abdelaziz al Fakhiri, also known as Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi [Newsweek backgrounder], apparently committed suicide [Reuters report] in his cell at al Saleem prison. The Bush administration cited al-Libi as the source of the flawed pre-Iraq war intelligence that Saddam Hussein provided weapons training to members of al Qaeda [JURIST news archives]. Al-Libi later claimed he fabricated the allegations because he was abused by Egyptian interrogators. Al-Libi was also a commander of the Khalden training camp in Afghanistan [JURIST news archive] and was named as a potential witness for the defense in US terrorism trials. However, since he was formerly part of the US secret extraordinary rendition program [JURIST new archive], it was never officially confirmed he was in Libyan custody. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] has called for an investigation [HRW press release] into al-Libi's death.
The circumstances of al-Libi's death renew concerns [Reuters report] about US links to nations with questionable human rights records, especially concerning the custody of high-value detainees facing terrorism charges. Libya has a mixed human rights record in recent years. Under international pressure, they released two political prisoners [JURIST report] convicted of a plan to overthrow the government of Libya. Relations between Libya and the US are improving, though the State Department recently criticised [JURIST report] Libya for its continued detention of political prisoners [JURIST report] in its 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices [DOS materials]. In 2008, the US and Libya reached an agreement to settle all pending lawsuits [JURIST report] brought by US terror victims against Libya. In 2004, the US lifted the remaining sanctions [JURIST report] against Libya as a reward for its agreement to dismantle its weapons programs. At the same time, Libya faced international criticism [JURIST report] for its treatment of six foreign medics [JURIST news archive] accused infecting hospital patients with HIV in 2007.