WikiLeaks Sparks Outrage Over Britain's Role in Lockerbie Bomber Release

A WikiLeaks report says London helped Libya apply for a "compassionate release" for the Lockerbie Bomber

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According to new documents released by WikiLeaks, the British government secretly aided Libya in securing the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi. The documents show that a British official instructed Libyan officials on how to apply for Megrahi's release given Megrahi's cancer diagnosis. Megrahi had been serving a lifelong sentence for his role in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 that killed 270 people. In 2009, Scotland granted him a compassionate release sparking outrage among the family members of the deceased victims. At the time, there were allegations that the British were aiding Megrahi's release in exchange for oil dealings with Libya. A sample of the distaste for these revelations:

  • This Makes Britain Look Incompetent, writes the editorial board of the Telegraph: "At the very least, the new information casts doubt on the last government's interpretation of contentious events that threatened serious damage to Britain's relationship with America. It suggests that Labour, and Gordon Brown in particular, was content--for party political reasons--to let the SNP Scottish executive take the full weight of public and international opprobrium for a decision that ministers in London not only supported, but actively encouraged."
  • Looks Like the Brits Were Deeply Involved, writes Ed Morrissey at Hot Air:

It seems likely that the British government didn’t just consult on Moammar Gaddafi’s behalf, but actively brokered the deal.  That has implications for the people of Scotland beyond Megrahi’s release.  Thus far, both governments insist that the decision was made by an independent judiciary, but this revelation shows that the UK conducted political machinations to spring Megrahi, with the intent to protect British interests in petroleum.  Would they have stuck their necks on the line without any certainty of the outcome?

  • The Involvement Reaches Nearly to the Top, notes Theunis Bates at AOL News: "The documents also suggest that Prince Andrew, the fourth in line to the throne, played a behind-the-scenes role in obtaining the former Libyan intelligence officer's freedom."
  • Both Bush and Obama Deserve Blame for This, writes Ed Morrissey at Hot Air: "Bush was still president at the time the embassy learned about this, and should have put the kibosh on it when it came to light--or demanded that the UK honor its agreement with the US to extradite Megrahi. The Obama administration should have done the same, and if that didn't work, at least honestly address the issue publicly rather than feigning surprise as they did at the time."
  • It's Time for Britain to Release All Pertinent Documents, writes the editorial board of the Telegraph: "For the families of the 270 people who died when PanAm flight 103 was blown out of the skies just before Christmas in 1988, this whole affair has been disturbingly murky. On a visit to Washington last summer, David Cameron promised to publish all the official papers relating to Megrahi's release, but has yet to do so. It is time he did."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.