Saadi flew to Hong Kong with his wife, two sons aged 12 and nine, and two daughters aged 14 and six. They were not met by any British officials but were detained by Chinese border guards over alleged passport irregularities, held for a week and then despatched to Tripoli.
Saadi says he always assumed the British were behind his rendition, "working behind the curtain". Confirmation came when Human Rights Watch, the New York-based NGO, discovered a cache of papers in Moussa Koussa's abandoned office.
They went to Malaysia, where he hoped to get asylum. He visited a UN office and was given an appointment for a month later. Before then, he was arrested by the Malaysian authorities, who detained him and his family for about 10 days. Saadi asked to be released to go to his UN appointment. The Malaysian authorities said they would, but if he went back to the UN, he would find US officials waiting for him. So he asked to be sent to China, where he had already obtained a visa. “The Chinese visa was so easy for us,” he said. “The Chinese were receiving people from everywhere at the time.” The Malaysians then sent him to China.
From China he attempted to get back to the United Kingdom. Saadi’s friends and family in the UK told him that if he went to the UK embassy in Hong Kong, someone there would be able to help him. When he arrived in Hong Kong, a man he assumed was a UK diplomat was waiting for him when he got off the plane. Instead, he was arrested for purported passport or immigration violations and detained, most of the time with his family. The room was monitored with cameras. During this period he said he overheard two police women arguing: “They were talking in their own language and I didn’t understand everything, but I did hear ‘CIA’ about four or five times, so I expected that something not good was about to happen.” After 13 days of detention, the Hong Kong authorities told him he would be sent back to China.
On or about March 28, 2004, Saadi said he was handcuffed, his legs zip-tied, and he was taken along with his wife and four children onto an empty plane with an Egyptian crew [and renditioned to Libya].
Saadi’s return appears to have been initiated by the MI6, but once the CIA discovered it was underway, they stepped in to do everything they could to assist. A March 23, 2004 fax from the CIA to Libyan intelligence, found in the folder marked “USA,” states that the CIA has “become aware” that Saadi and his family were being held in detention in Hong Kong and that the Libyans have been working with the British to “effect [his] removal to Tripoli” on a Libyan plane that was in the Maldives. In the fax, the CIA said that it was aware that the Hong Kong special wing had denied permission for the Libyan airplane to land. It went on to explain, “However, we believe that the reason for the refusal was based on international concerns over having a Libyan-registered aircraft land in Hong Kong. Accordingly, if your government were to charter a foreign aircraft from a third country, the Hong Kong government may be able to coordinate with you to render Abu Munthir [Saadi] and his family into your custody.” The CIA even offered to pay for the non-Libyan-registered charter aircraft. “If payment of a charter aircraft is an issue, our service would be willing to assist financially to help underwrite those costs.”
The CIA requested perfunctory diplomatic assurances that Saadi and his family would not be harmed if they provided assistance: “Please be advised if we pursue that option [providing assistance], we must have assurances from your government that Abu Munthir [Saadi] and his family will be treated humanely and that his human rights will be respected.” 
In the same fax, the CIA also provided suggestions as to how the Libyans might expedite the process and convince the Hong Kong authorities to cooperate. “[W]e believe that you will need to provide significant detail on Abu Munthir (e.g. his terrorist/criminal acts, why he is wanted, perhaps proof of citizenship)…. Specifically, the Hong Kong government must have a stipulation … that he will not be subject to the death penalty.”
The next day, on March 24, 2004, the Libyan authorities sent a 32-page fax to Hong Kong authorities containing, among other things, a birth certificate, information on why Saadi was wanted, and details on the “crimes and the terrorist activities that [Saadi] committed.” They also promised that the “maximum penalty” for what he had done was “life imprisonment.” (Though later, after being in Libyan custody for five years without charge, Saadi was sentenced to death). The United States also provided the name and telephone numbers for Hong Kong’s principal secretary for security.
After the Hong Kong authorities received this information, it appears they agreed to allow the non-Libyan registered charter aircraft to land. Also in the Tripoli Documents, in the folder marked “USA,” a fax sent just two days before Saadi arrived in Libya contains a cover page marked “Hong Kong Landing Requirements” and two pages stamped “confidential.” It states that in order for the “Non-Scheduled Flight to land in Hong Kong,” the Libyan government has to comply with “certain regulations” so that a “Permission to Land” can be issued. It also confirms, “[i]t is agreed that the subject person will be moved together with his whole family (a total of six persons) on board of the same flight” and recommends a “local Aircraft Handling Agent” for the transaction who needs to be paid in “cash (in US dollars).” Saadi was transferred around March 28, 2004, just a few days after Tony Blair’s historic first visit to Libya on March 25.