Prison jail cell
U.S. senators want Lockerbie bomber back behind bars. (Photo Credit: abardwell/Flickr/cc by-sa)

Oil company BP has made billions all over the globe. Now a U.S. Senator is worried that BP will make billions more by helping set free a terrorist convicted of killing Americans in order to secure a BP-Libya oil deal. Suspicions arose after Libyan Abdel Bastet Al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, was released from a Scottish prison last August after doctors said he had three months to live. Nearly a year later, BP prepares to drill off Libya and Al-Megrahi is surviving and thriving.

Senators against release of Lockerbie bomber

U.S. lawmakers want to overturn the release of the Lockerbie bomber, imprisoned for the 1988 Pan Am flight 103 bombing. New Jersey Democrat Frank Lautenberg says he sees evidence suggesting the Lockerbie bomber release is tied to the BP-Libya oil deal, but he may be just trying to increase political pressure on the culprit of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Odd timing of BP-Libya oil deal and Lockerbie bomber release

The release “on compassionate grounds” of the Lockerbie bomber following a prostate cancer diagnosis is now in question. After being convicted for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 that killed 270 individuals, including 189 Americans, Al-Megrahi, now 58, was sentenced to life in prison. Evidence suggests that oil spill company BP may have angled for Al-Megrahi’s release, which came after he served just eight years, and Lautenberg has asked the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to investigate. He wants to know if the Lockerbie bomber’s release was connected to a BP plan to start drilling in the next few months off Libya, which the senator says could earn the business up to $20 billion.

Lockerbie bomber’s imminent demise greatly exaggerated

After a doctor said Al-Megrahi could live 10 more years, senators pressured the British government to investigate his release. The Associated Press reports that Lautenberg, along with Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer of New York and fellow New Jersey senator Robert Menendez, wrote a letter to the U.K.’s American ambassador last week demanding the investigation. Due process was followed, said British Ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald in his response.

BP may be responsible for Lockerbie release

In a letter to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Lautenberg said BP may have influenced the British and Scottish governments about the Lockerbie bomber’s release to improve its chances for a 2007 oil deal. The letter said BP did not deny that it told the British government that a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya could affect the oil deal. Al-Megrahi was initially excluded from the prisoner transfer agreement, but Jack Straw, the British Secretary of State for Justice, later changed his mind, citing “overwhelming interests for the United Kingdom.”

Families of Lockerbie victims still seek justice

BP has declined to discuss the senators’ probe of the Lockerbie bomber release. However, CNN found a statement on BP’s website that called the Libyan oil deal “the single biggest exploration financial commitment an international energy company has ever made to Libya.” The British ambassador defends the Lockerbie bomber’s release in a letter to Gillibrand posted on the British Embassy website. Brian Flynn, whose brother was killed on Pan Am flight 103, fought to deny Al-Megrahi his freedom. He told CNN:

“You can’t allow the process of justice to be corrupted by the cynical mercantilism of one company.”

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