US Senator seeks Lockerbie 'whistleblowers'

16th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

A US senator investigating the Lockerbie bomber's release called Monday for "whistleblowers" with behind-the-scenes knowledge of the controversy to share their secrets with his probe.

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez notably appealed to sources familiar with internal British, Scottish and Libyan government discussions as well as any role played by embattled energy giant BP in the release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi.

"All correspondence will remain confidential and identities will not be disclosed unless permission is granted," Menendez's office promised in a statement nearly one year after Megrahi was freed on compassionate grounds and allowed to return to Libya.

The Scottish government freed Megrahi in August 2009 on grounds he was suffering from terminal cancer and had only three months to live, but he is still alive nearly a year later.

The senator's office said it was "interested in hearing from whistleblowers" with information on a wide range of issues tied to Megrahi's release.

Menendez specifically sought details of talks between oil giant BP and Libya from 2003 onward; discussions between Britain's government and BP regarding oil and gas exploration in Libya from 2003 onward; negotiations between Britain and Libya from 2003 onward; and Megrahi's health before and after his release.

Menendez also sought information about the British, Libyan, and Scottish governments' "perspective" on Megrahi's release; the Scottish medical community's view of Megrahi's diagnosis; and the bomber's legal representation throughout the process.

The British embassy in Washington declined to comment on the Senator's move.

Megrahi is the only man convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, in which 270 people died, including 189 Americans.

The fact he is still alive almost a year after his release from prison has enraged critics in the United States who accuse oil giant BP of having pressed Scottish authorities for Megrahi's release to safeguard a lucrative business deal in Libya.

The Scottish government vehemently denies it came under pressure from BP.

Menendez plans to chair a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the matter "in the coming weeks" after an earlier session was canceled due to lack of cooperation from the governments involved as well as BP.

© 2010 AFP

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