London: The man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing had blackmailed Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi into securing his release by threatening to expose his role in the attack, the former Libyan justice minister was quoted as saying on Sunday.
The Sunday Times newspaper quoted Mustafa Abdel-Jalil as saying that Abdel Baset al-Megrahi had warned Gaddafi that he would "reveal everything" about the 1988 bombing of an American flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, if he wasn`t rescued from a Scottish prison.
Abdel-Jalil told a Swedish tabloid on Wednesday that he had proof Gaddafi had personally ordered the Lockerbie bombing. He did not describe the proof.
Al-Megrahi was the only man convicted for the attack, which killed 270 people. He was released in 2009 on compassionate grounds after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. He remains alive.
Most of the victims in the Lockerbie bombing were Americans. Al-Megrahi`s release has been criticised by members of the US Congress and the victims` families.
Abdel-Jalil said al-Megrahi did not plan the bombing but was "nevertheless involved in facilitating things for those who did”.
He said that the threat to reveal Gaddafi’s alleged role paid off, with Libya paying GBP 50,000 (USD 80,539) a month on legal fees and lobbying to bring him back to Tripoli.
Gaddafi and his officials "were dedicated to ensuring that Megrahi should return to Libya even if it cost them every penny they had," Abdel-Jalil told the newspaper in an interview.