Lockerbie bomber release reportedly linked to arms deal

A newly-revealed message has ignited a fresh round of fingerpointing in the United Kingdom over the release of the then-ailing Lockerbie bomber from a Scottish prison to Libya in 2009 on grounds of compassion.

According to the Sunday Telegraph of London, the email was penned by Sir Vincent Fean, then-UK ambassador to Libya and sent to then ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair, just ahead of a visit Blair was to make to the country in the summer of 2008. Blair left office in June 2007, but apparently continued to travel to Libya as an envoy for the English government.

The controversial missive from Fean to Blair's office reportedly hints at England’s willingness to approve “(four) bilaterial justice agreements” once Libya signed off on a lucrative, job-producing arms deal involving a British-made air defense system called, “Jernas.”

The missive, obtained by the Telegraph through a Freedom of Information request, says: “Linked (by Libya) is the issue of the 4 bilateral Justice agreements about which TB signed an MoU, (or memorandum of understanding) with (then Libyan Prime Minister) Baghdadi on 29 May (2007).

“The (memorandum of understanding) says they will be negotiated within the year: they have been. They are all ready for signature in London as soon as Libya fulfills its promise on Jernas.”

In response, a Blair spokesman told The Telegraph the prisoner transfer agreements cited within Fean’s email did not pertain to Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, convicted in 2001 of murdering 270 passengers on PanAm Flight 103 from London to New York, after the plane blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. Al-Megrahi was released from a Scottish prison in 2009 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, and given three months to live. He died in May 2012.

The email, the spokesman reportedly added, did not show “that the UK government was trying to link the defense deal and Megrahi.”

 “What the email in fact shows is that, consistent with what we have always said, it was made clear to the then-Libyan leader that the release of Megarahi was a matter for Scotland and was not a matter for Her Majesty’s Government,” the spokesman told the Telegraph.

“Of course the Libyans, as they always did, raised Megrahi. Mr. Blair explained, as he always did, in office and out of it, that it was not a decision for the UK government but for the Scottish Executive.”

Click for the story from the Sunday Telegraph of London.