US officials warned Scotland over al-Megrahi



US officials warned Scotland over al-Megrahi US officials warned Scotland over al-Megrahi London: American officials were dead-set against the release of the Lockerbie bomber and warned Scottish authorities that scenes of jubilation in Tripoli over his return would upset victims' families, a newly released document has revealed.

The August 12, 2009 letter from Richard LeBaron, the charge d'affaires at the US Embassy in London, to Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond sets out the views of the American government as Scotland grappled with whether to release Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted in the bombing attack on Pan Am Flight 103.

"The United States maintains its view that in light of the scope of Megrahi's crime, its heinous nature, and its continuing and devastating impact on the victims and their families, it would be most appropriate for Megrahi to remain imprisoned for the entirety of his sentence," the letter says, declaring the US was not willing to support his release on either compassionate grounds or under a prisoner transfer agreement.

The release of the correspondence comes ahead of a hearing this week in Washington into the circumstances surrounding the August 20 release of al-Megrahi, convicted in 2001 of the attack on the jetliner in the skies above the small town of Lockerbie, Scotland.

The December 1988 bombing killed 259 people – mostly Americans - on board the plane, and another 11 on the ground.

The senators will also probe whether an exploration deal between Libya and London-based oil company BP had an impact on the decision to release al-Megrahi.

Britain and Libya began negotiating their prisoner transfer agreement in 2007, and it came into effect last April. BP has acknowledged it had expressed concern to the British government about the progress of the prisoner transfer deal, but said it had not raised the case of al-Megrahi.

Al-Megrahi's release was granted by Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill last August on compassionate grounds because he said medical experts believed the 58-year-old had less than three months to live.

In May, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, the son of Libyan leader oammar Gadhafi, said al-Megrahi was still alive but "very sick."

PTI