U.S. senators from New Jersey and New York will meet British Prime Minister David Cameron in Washington Tuesday evening to discuss the circumstances surrounding the release of the Libyan terrorist convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.
In a letter to Mr. Cameron, Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles E. Schumer of New York, and Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez of New Jersey expressed concern that the oil firm BP had lobbied former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government to secure Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s release.
BP is alleged to have intervened in the case in order to win a drilling deal in Libya.
Al-Megrahi was convicted of the bombing of New York-bound Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. The terrorist act killed 270 people, most of them Americans returning home for Christmas.
The senators said they were “dismayed” to learn from a BP representative that the oil firm “actively lobbied the previous government on behalf of the [Prisoner Transfer Agreement], and media reports suggest BP even tried to address the release of [al-Megrahi].”
A Scottish court released al-Megrahi in August, judging the cancer-stricken terrorist to be on his death bed. He received a hero’s welcome when he returned to Libya.
The senators noted that al-Megrahi “continues to live in freedom and comfort eleven months after release because he was judged to be near death.”
“The discrepancy in Mr. al-Megrahi’s life expectancy has brought back into focus the concerns that we and others expressed last year when he was released,” they said.
Mr. Cameron, who was in the opposition at the time of al-Megrahi’s release, had opposed the Scottish court’s decision.
In an interview with NPR on Tuesday, the British leader described the court’s decision as “profoundly misguided.”
“He was convicted of the biggest mass murder in British history, and in my view, he should’ve died in jail,” Mr. Cameron said.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has asked the British government to review the circumstances surrounding the convicted terrorist’s release.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to hold a hearing on the matter on July 29.