A senior British minister says trade and oil deals with Libya played a
"very big part" in Britain's decision to include the Lockerbie bomber
in a prisoner transfer agreement between the two countries.
Secretary Jack Straw told The Daily Telegraph newspaper Saturday that
he was "unapologetic" about including convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel
Baset al-Megrahi in the agreement with Libya, signed two years ago,
just as British oil giant BP was seeking a multimillion dollar contract
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said there
was "no cover-up, no double-dealing, no deal on oil" linked to
Megrahi's early release last month from a Scottish prison.
was the only man convicted in the 1988 bombing of a U.S. airliner over
the Scottish town of Lockerbie. The bombing killed 270 people.
acknowledged to The Daily Telegraph that British trade interests were a
crucial factor in the 2007 prisoner transfer negotiations with Libya,
which he called a "rogue state" that "we wanted to bring back into the
A few weeks later, in January 2008, Libya ratified a $900 million oil deal with BP.
British oil firm has acknowledged that it pressed the government to
speed up talks on a prisoner transfer deal with Libya. But BP says it
did not raise the Megrahi case specifically.
authorities insisted they acted on humanitarian grounds after Megrahi
served eight years of a life sentence, because he was near death from
Libyan Foreign Minister Mousa Kousa told The Times
newspaper Saturday that trade had nothing to do with Megrahi's release
and that Libya was grateful to the British and Scottish governments for
Megrahi received a hero's welcome when he returned to Libya on August 20.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.