Clinton Urges London, Edinburgh to Probe Lockerbie Release and BP Deal Claims

By Patrick Goodenough | July 20, 2010 | 12:40 AM EDT

In this photo taken Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, left, arrives in Tripoli, Libya, accompanied by Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam. (AP Photo, File)

( – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has asked the British and Scottish governments to review a decision to release from a life prison term the Libyan convicted in the Lockerbie bombing, amid suspicions of links to a lucrative oil deal in the North African nation.

On the eve of Prime Minister David Cameron’s first visit to Washington, Clinton in a letter to lawmakers Monday said she had obtained from Foreign Secretary William Hague an agreement to review the matter and report directly to the U.S. Congress.

Clinton said the administration was aware of reports of a possible link between the early release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi and a BP oil exploration deal in Libya, and of the positions put forward by the British and Scottish governments and BP in this regard.

“Whatever the rationale, we do not believe the decision to release al-Megrahi and permit his return to Libya was in the interest of justice, and we continue to believe his freedom is not in the interest of justice,” she said.

“We are encouraging the Scottish and British authorities to review again the underlying facts and circumstances leading to the release of al-Megrahi and to consider any new information that has come to light since his release.”

Cameron on Monday called the decision to release the Libyan “completely and utterly wrong.”

Scottish authorities released Megrahi last summer “on compassionate grounds,” on the strength of medical advice that his advanced prostate cancer gave him about three months to live. Almost a year later, he remains alive.

His release returned to public attention this month when four senators called on the administration to probe the affair, and demanded that BP release to Congress all private and public communications relating to the episode.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee plans to hold a public hearing on the subject next Thursday.

(See a timeline of the Lockerbie affair, from the 1988 bombing to the controversy today.)
Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow