David Calling

The David Pryce-Jones blog.

WikiLeaks Reveals Details of Megrahi Release Deal


WikiLeaks confirms our worst fears about the handling of Abdul Baset al-Megrahi, the Libyan agent condemned to prison for the Lockerbie bombing. He was released and sent home to Libya in August last year ostensibly for humanitarian reasons. Apparently his prostate cancer was so advanced that he had at most three months of life. There was always something suspect about this outcome. New evidence was about to be produced in a court of appeal that supposedly would show that Megrahi had been wrongfully convicted. The British government was evidently afraid of what might then come out, for instance that the conviction was unsound. Behind closed doors, a deal was struck: Megrahi had to withdraw his appeal and then he could go home. It could hardly be more fishy that sixteen months after this release the man is doing fine.

Until now, what pressures the Libyan dictator Muammer Gaddhafi had been exerting remained unknown. Common sense, and — alas — experience of the Blair and Brown governments made it likely that Gaddhafi had been issuing threats and promises for the sake of getting his way. The British government denied anything such thing, throwing up its hands in horror at the very idea. WikiLeaks makes it clear that Blair and Brown and the politicians have been lying.

Richard LeBaron of the American embassy in London cabled the State Department on good authority that Gaddhafi was making explicit and “thuggish” threats to take what he called “dire reprisals,” such as halting all trade with Britain and harassing embassy staff if Megrahi remained in prison. (In living memory, someone in the Libyan embassy in London fired out of a window at a policewoman and killed her.) The British ambassador in Libya, one Vincent Fean, was relieved when Megrahi was released. The Libyans, he wrote, “could have cut us off at the knees.” Blair, Brown, and their officials, including this cringing Fean, caved in to the despicable tin-pot Gaddhafi with his bragging and his blackmail. Such an unmitigated moral disaster is worse than being cut off at the knees.


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