Investigating the Release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on July 25, 2010

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A number of members of Congress want to investigate BP for its alleged role in lobbying for the release of al-Megrahi, who was the only person convicted for the Lockerbie bombing, and who was sent home to Libya on compassionate grounds, presumably to die in a few months. According to doctors, he probably has another decade.

The release has outraged people, and I would imagine that some kind of investigation may well be in order. But perhaps it ought to start closer to home:

THE US government secretly advised Scottish ministers it would be “far preferable” to free the Lockerbie bomber than jail him in Libya.

Correspondence obtained by The Sunday Times reveals the Obama administration considered compassionate release more palatable than locking up Abdel Baset al-Megrahi in a Libyan prison.

The intervention, which has angered US relatives of those who died in the attack, was made by Richard LeBaron, deputy head of the US embassy in London, a week before Megrahi was freed in August last year on grounds that he had terminal cancer.

The document, acquired by a well-placed US source, threatens to undermine US President Barack Obama’s claim last week that all Americans were “surprised, disappointed and angry” to learn of Megrahi’s release.

Scottish ministers viewed the level of US resistance to compassionate release as “half-hearted” and a sign it would be accepted.

The US has tried to keep the letter secret, refusing to give permission to the Scottish authorities to publish it on the grounds it would prevent future “frank and open communications” with other governments.

More:

The US Government told Scottish officials that the Lockerbie bomber’s release on compassionate grounds was ”far preferable” to his transfer back to a Libyan jail, it was revealed today.

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond said today that while America ”didn’t want” Abdelbaset al-Megrahi to be released, they would rather see him freed on account of his terminal cancer, than under the prisoner transfer agreement between the UK and Libya.

Megrahi is the only person convicted of the 1988 bombing in which 270 people were killed.

He was released in August last year after doctors said he was dying of prostate cancer and had three months to live – prompting fury in the US.

Last week, President Barack Obama told a White House press conference that the US had been ”surprised, disappointed and angry” about Megrahi being released.

Speaking to Sky News today, Mr Salmond said: ”I think a fair description of the American Government’s position is that they didn’t want al-Megrahi to be released.

”However, if he was to be released, they thought it was far preferable for compassionate release as opposed to the prisoner transfer agreement.”

Let’s have that investigation, then.

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