BP faces new scrutiny in freeing of Libyan convicted in Lockerbie bombing
Oil giant BP faced a new furor Thursday as it confirmed that it had lobbied the British government to conclude a prisoner-transfer agreement that the Libyan government wanted to secure the release of the only person convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing over Scotland, which killed 270 people, most of them Americans.
The New York Times
LONDON — Oil giant BP faced a new furor Thursday as it confirmed that it had lobbied the British government to conclude a prisoner-transfer agreement that the Libyan government wanted to secure the release of the only person convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing over Scotland, which killed 270 people, most of them Americans.
The acknowledgment came after U.S. lawmakers, grappling with the controversy over the company's Gulf of Mexico oil spill, called for an investigation into BP's actions in the case of the freed man, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi.
After an initial demand for an investigation Wednesday by four senators from New York and New Jersey, further calls for an inquiry by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee were made Thursday by Sen. Barbara Boxer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, both Democrats of California.
Al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence agent, was released and allowed to return to Libya in August after doctors advised the Scottish government that he was likely to die within three months of advanced prostate cancer. But nearly a year later, he remains alive and free, though kept out of sight, in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
BP's statement Thursday repeated earlier acknowledgments that it had promoted the transfer agreement to protect a $900 million offshore oil-and-gas exploration deal off Libya's Mediterranean coast.
The British justice minister at the time, Jack Straw, admitted shortly after al-Megrahi was repatriated and freed that the BP deal was a consideration in the government's review of his case.
In the end, al-Megrahi was not released under the prisoner-transfer agreement. Instead, to the consternation of the Obama administration, and of many of the victims' families, the Scottish government released him under provisions in Scottish law that allow for a prisoner's sentence to be commuted on humanitarian grounds, because of al-Megrahi's cancer. That freed him from serving any further prison time in Libya, as he would have had to do under the transfer pact.
U.S. anger over the case — which has only grown as al-Megrahi's life endures — found a new outlet this week, with the demands for an investigation of the issue in the United States.
On Wednesday, Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, together with Democratic Sens. Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, announced that they had written a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asking for a State Department investigation into BP's role in the prisoner transfer agreement.
The two California senators followed Thursday with a letter to Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, declaring that "commercial interests — oil or otherwise — should never be prioritized over justice for victims of terrorist acts and severe punishment for convicted terrorists."
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.