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Clinton urges review of decision to release Lockerbie bomber

Anna Marie Miazga of Marcy, N.Y., on Monday shows a photo of her daughter, Suzanne, who died in the 1988 Pan Am bombing.

Associated Press

Anna Marie Miazga of Marcy, N.Y., on Monday shows a photo of her daughter, Suzanne, who died in the 1988 Pan Am bombing.

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.

Judge leading torture inquiry criticized

The judge leading the British inquiry into charges that his country's intelligence services colluded with the torture of suspected terrorists abroad has had his impartiality compromised and must be removed, the human rights group Reprieve said today. Prime Minister David Cameron said this month that he was appointing Peter Gibson, a former appeals court judge, to investigate allegations that British spies were complicit in the mistreatment of terror suspects held by the United States and other allies in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But Reprieve noted Gibson has served as intelligence services commissioner, Britain's spy watchdog, since April 2006. The rights group said the government was effectively asking him to "judge whether his own work was effective."

Clinton urges review of decision to release Lockerbie bomber 07/19/10 [Last modified: Monday, July 19, 2010 11:40pm]
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