WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has asked the governments of Scotland and Britain to review the decision last summer to release the Libyan convicted in the Lockerbie airliner bombing.
In letters to U.S. lawmakers, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the United States was encouraging the Scottish and British authorities to review the circumstances leading to the release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi. Four senators wrote Clinton last week, questioning whether oil giant BP played a behind-the-scenes role in the decision.
In her response, Clinton wrote that she remained deeply troubled by the Libyan's release.
"That al-Megrahi is living out his remaining days outside of Scottish custody is an affront to the victims' families, the memories of those killed in the Lockerbie bombing, and to all of those who worked tirelessly to ensure justice was served," Clinton wrote.
British Prime Minister David Cameron called the Scottish decision "completely and utterly wrong," in remarks to the BBC a day before beginning an official visit to Washington.
But Cameron's office appeared to rule out a government inquiry into whether BP lobbying helped pave the way for al-Megrahi's release, saying it was "not currently under consideration."
Al-Megrahi served eight years of a life sentence for the Dec. 21, 1988, bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 as it flew over Lockerbie, Scotland, en route to New York. The bombing killed 270 people, most of them American.
He was released on compassionate grounds and returned to Libya in August 2009 after doctors said the cancer-stricken man had only three months to live. But a doctor now says al-Megrahi could live for another decade, infuriating many, including the four U.S. senators — Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer of New York and Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey. They are demanding he be returned to the United Kingdom to serve out the rest of his sentence.
Cameron's trip to Washington this week will be his first since taking office in May. He will hold talks with President Barack Obama and separately with members of Congress. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the Lockerbie case likely will come up in the White House session. And the four senators were invited late Monday to the British ambassador's residence to speak with Cameron this evening.