LONDON—Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond called on the U.S. on Sunday to declassify documents related to Scotland's release last summer of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi.
Both the Scottish and U.K. governments have released documents sent in the lead-up to last summer's decision to release Mr. Megrahi, but U.S. correspondence with the U.K. and Scottish governments remains classified.
Mr. Salmond's call to release the documents comes ahead of a U.S. Senate hearing this week on Scotland's decision to release Mr. Megrahi, the former Libyan security agent convicted in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people, including 189 Americans, when it exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland.
"The decision to release Megrahi was made by Scottish authorities against the clear wishes of the U.S.," U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. "The burden is on Scottish authorities to explain why they made the decision that they made. The U.S. consistently objected to any decision by Scottish authorities that would result in Megrahi's return to Libya. ...In all correspondence and in all conversations, we opposed Megrahi's return to Libya."
A senior State Department official said the department is likely soon to release documents to the public and to Congress from the U.S. Embassy in London that show the U.S. in "no way" wanted Mr. Megrahi released to Libya.
The Scottish government in August released Mr. Megrahi on the grounds that he was suffering from terminal prostate cancer and likely had no more than three months to live. More than 11 months after his release, Mr. Megrahi remains alive in Libya.
Mr. Salmond's remarks, made on Sky News, came after London's Sunday Times reported that a senior official at the U.S. Embassy in London wrote to the Scottish government to say the U.S. wanted the Lockerbie bomber to stay in jail, but that in the event Mr. Megrahi were to go free, the U.S. government preferred he be discharged under Scotland's provision for compassionate release—and not under the terms of a Prisoner Transfer Agreement between the U.K. and Libya.