British Prime Minister David Cameron has called for an independent inquiry into links between the British spy agency MI6 and the toppled regime of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
The call comes after documents uncovered this week showed that MI6 -- as well as the CIA -- sent terrorism suspects to Libya, where they could be held without charges and tortured during interrogation.
Both countries have said that they believed the suspects would be treated humanely in Libya, but the very purpose of such so-called "renditions" is to handle suspects outside the umbrella of domestic law and the Qaddafi regime has long been known for its brutality.
The documents were found in the abandoned office of Libya's spy chief in Tripoli and brought to light by the group Human Rights Watch.
U.K. government spokespeople indicated that the new allegations would likely be folded into an existing probe of British maltreatment of prisoners, known simply as the Detainee Inquiry, according to a BBC report.
"It can't come as a surprise that the Central Intelligence Agency works with foreign governments to help protect our country from terrorism and other deadly threats," CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood told the Associated Press in response to the documents. "That is exactly what we are expected to do."
One notable case is that of Abdel-Hakim Belhaj, commander of the anti-Qaddafi rebel force that now controls Tripoli. Belhaj is the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a now-dissolved militant group with links to al Qaeda. Belhaj says he was tortured by CIA agents at a secret prison, then returned to Libya.
Two documents from March 2004 appear to be American correspondence to Libyan officials to arrange Belhaj's rendition.
Referring to him by his nom de guerre, Abdullah al-Sadiq, the documents say he will be flown from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Libya and asks for Libyan government agents to accompany him.
It also requests American "access to al-Sadiq for debriefing purposes once he is in your custody."
"Please be advised that we must be assured that al-Sadiq will be treated humanely and that his human rights will be respected," the document says.
Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch, which found the documents, called the ties between Washington and Qaddafi's regime "a very dark chapter in American intelligence history, and it remains a stain on the record of the American intelligence services that they cooperated with these very abusive intelligence services."The Associated Press contributed to this report