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WikiLeaks: UK Official Advised Libya On Release Of Lockerbie Bomber

Citing a freshly released cache of leaked diplomatic cables, The Telegraph reports that a Foreign Office minister advised Libyan officials on how to get the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing out of prison.

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who who was convicted of the murder of 270 passengers on a Pan Am flight over Scotland, was released last July on compassionate grounds. Al-Megrahi was stricken by cancer and was said to have months to live.

The Telegraph reports:

The disclosure seriously undermines British Government claims that is was not complicit in the release of al-Megrahi, and that the decision to free the convicted terrorist was taken by the Scottish Executive alone.

It will also lead to renewed pressure from senior American politicians on David Cameron to release all internal documents detailing Britain's role in the scandal. Last summer, the Prime Minister pledged to release the relevant information – but the publication has yet to occur sparking fears that a cover-up may have been ordered.

The Telegraph adds that in providing this assistance, the British government was reacting to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's threats to cut trade with Britain if al-Megrahi remained in jail.

Reuters reports on the reaction from the British government:

Responding to The Daily Telegraph report, a Foreign Office spokesman said the government believed Megrahi's release was a mistake and that the decision was made solely by the Scottish executive.

He said Prime Minister David Cameron had asked a senior official to review papers held by the government to see if more should be published about the background to the decision to free Megrahi and the review would be completed as soon as possible.

Al-Megrahi is still alive and living in Libya.

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.