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Saturday, August 29, 2009

UK's "Times Online" Headline: Lockerbie bomber 'set free for oil'

According to Jason Allardyce of the Sunday Times (h/t Instapundit) the release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was an issue on the table during negotiations between Libya and British Petroleum.

"The British government decided it was 'in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom' to make Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, eligible for return to Libya, leaked ministerial letters reveal.

"Gordon Brown’s government made the decision after discussions between Libya and BP over a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal had hit difficulties. These were resolved soon afterwards."

And later in the article: "Edward Davey, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said: 'This is the strongest evidence yet that the British government has been involved for a long time in talks over al-Megrahi in which commercial considerations have been central to their thinking.'"

The claim is that these leaked details of the negotiations had nothing to do with the actual release of al-Megrahi.

"A Ministry of Justice spokesman denied there had been a U-turn, but said trade considerations had been a factor in negotiating the prisoner exchange deal. He said Straw [the justice secretary Jack Straw] had unsuccessfully tried to accommodate the wish of the Scottish government to exclude Megrahi from agreement.

"The spokesman claimed the deal was ultimately 'academic' because Megrahi had been released on compassionate grounds: 'The negotiations on the [transfer agreement] were part of wider negotiations aimed at the normalisation of relations with Libya, which included a range of areas, including trade.'"

Hmm... Does anyone else find this a trifle maddening?

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