U.S. asks for review of Lockerbie bomber release
The Obama administration has urged the British and Scottish governments to review the decision to release the Libyan intelligence agent convicted of involvement in the Pan Am 103 bombing, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a letter provided to lawmakers on Monday.
The release last year of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi on humanitarian grounds has stirred renewed interest because of the potential involvement of BP in the decision. BP acknowledged last week that it urged the British government in 2007 to speed up a prisoner release because it was worried that a stalemate on the issue would undercut an oil exploration deal with Libya. But the company has denied it sought the specific release of Megrahi.
Megrahi served eight years of a life sentence for the Dec. 21, 1988, bombing, which killed 270 people -- many of them American.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has scheduled a public hearing on the subject for July 29, and four lawmakers have sought a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron when he arrives in Washington this week for a meeting with President Obama. Cameron, when he was opposition leader, had opposed the release, which was authorized by Scotland.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley acknowledged that there is little chance that the decision can be reversed. Megrahi, who was treated to a hero's welcome when he returned to Tripoli, was said to have had only three months to live, but he is a still alive nearly a year after his release.
Crowley said a review could ease concerns about BP's role. "Everybody has an interest in making sure that this was a decision that was made freely, based on the best information available and did not represent any inappropriate or skewed actions," he said.
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