26 July 2010
The July 25 Sunday Times article, “Revealed: US double-talk on Lockerbie,” included leaked excerpts of the August 12, 2009 letter from U.S. Embassy Chargé Richard LeBaron to Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond. The article does not accurately reflect the strong and consistent opposition of the U.S. government to the release or transfer under any scenario of convicted PanAm 103 bomber Abdelbasset al-Megrahi. We are therefore taking the exceptional step of releasing the full text of this letter and have informed British and Scottish authorities.
The August 12 letter, following on prior communications with the UK and Scottish authorities, reiterated the strong and consistent opposition of the U.S. government in all its exchanges with Scottish and British officials to the release or transfer under any scenario of al-Megrahi. When it became clear in the weeks leading up to the Scottish government’s decision that the compassionate release option was under serious consideration in Edinburgh, the August 12 letter was written to reiterate our objection to release, and in the event that Edinburgh decided to proceed with release despite U.S. objections, to underscore to Scottish authorities that the United States was not indifferent between an outcome which permitted Megrahi’s return to Libya and one which confined him to Scotland.
To avoid the worst possible outcome — a hero’s welcome for Megrahi in Libya — we indicated to Scottish authorities that, though we did not endorse Megrahi’s early release under any scenario, compassionate release conditioned on Megrahi remaining under close supervision in Scotland would be less objectionable than any release permitting his travel outside of Scotland. Unfortunately, the Scottish government did not heed those views. Scottish authorities instead took two steps we explicitly asked them to avoid: they released Megrahi and they permitted his return to Libya. All exchanges with the Scottish government clearly reflected the U.S. government’s views on these matters.
Attached are the August 12, 2009 letter and enclosure from U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Richard LeBaron to the First Minister for Scotland regarding the continued imprisonment of Megrahi, in PDF format (PDF-779 Kb).