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Britain released Lockerbie bomber after clinching Libyan arms deal
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Published: 9 years ago
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Britain released Lockerbie bomber after clinching Libyan arms deal

A newly uncovered secret correspondence reveals that the release of the Lockerbie bomber was linked by the then UK government to a £400 million arms-export deal to Libya, local media reported.

The revelation would embarrass members of the then Labour government, which always insisted that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s release was not linked to commercial deals.

It’s an email obtained by The Sunday Telegraph based on an information request, which had been sent by the then British ambassador in Tripoli and detailed how a prisoner transfer agreement would be signed once Libya “fulfills its promise” to buy an air defence system.

The email, which contained a briefing on the UK’s relations with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, was sent on June 8, 2008 by Sir Vincent Fean, the then UK ambassador, to Tony Blair’s private office, ahead of a visit soon after he stepped down as prime minister.

The briefing, which runs to 1,300 words, contained revealing details about how keen Britain was to do deals with Gaddafi.

The release of Megrahi in August 2009 caused a huge furore, with the government insisting he had been released on compassionate grounds because he was suffering from terminal cancer, and that the decision was taken solely by the Scottish government.

Megrahi had been convicted in 2001 of the murder of 270 people when PanAm flight 103 from London to New York blew up over Lockerbie in Scotland in 1988.

Libya had been putting pressure on the UK to release Megrahi and in May 2007, just before he left Downing Street, Tony Blair travelled to Sirte to meet Gaddafi and Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi, Libya’s then prime minister.

At that meeting, according to Sir Vincent’s email, Blair and Baghdadi agreed that Libya would buy the missile defence system from MBDA, a weapons manufacturer part-owned by BAE Systems. The pair also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a prisoner transfer agreement (PTA), which the Libyans believed would pave the way for Megrahi’s release.


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