The August 2009 release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi—the man convicted of the Pan Am flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988—is now being reported as the result of a massive arms deal between the United Kingdom and Libya. According to reports in Global Research and the UK’s Sunday Telegraph, the covert deal came to light after a Freedom of Information request made documents available, including an email directed towards the private office of Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister (1997-2007), addressing a prison transfer for Megrahi. The e-mail exchange preceded a visit by Blair to Libya, shortly after his resignation in 2007.
According to the newly public documents, the deal for Megrahi’s release involved Libya’s purchase of a missile defense system from British manufacturers worth €400 million.
Blair made several visits to Libya to meet with Libya’s leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, to try to settle the matter, but it was not until the day before his August 2009 trip that the prisoner transfer request was filed. Prior to the latest reports, the official, public account had been that the British released Megrahi on compassionate grounds, because of his development of terminal cancer. However, as The Telegraph reported in July 2013, “The disclosure is embarrassing for members of the then Labour government, which always insisted that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s release was not linked to commercial deals.”
Neither Tony Blair nor Libya has yet responded to the revelations. After his release, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi resided in his home country until succumbing to cancer in September 2012.
Sources: Felicity Arbuthnot, “Tony Blair: Libya, Lockerbie, Arms, and Betrayals”, Global Research, August 2,2013, http://www.globalresearch.ca/tony-blair-libya-lockerbie-arms-and-betrayals/5344774.
Robert Mendick and Edward Malnick, “Lockerbie Bomber Release Linked to Arms Deal, According to Secret Letter,” The Sunday Telegraph, July 27, 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10206659/Lockerbie-bomber-release-linked-to-arms-deal-according-to-secret-letter.html.
Student Researcher: Kory Arnold (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Greg Gassman (Woodland Community College)