At a news conference today, U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called on BP to suspend its oil drilling plans in Libya until its role in the freeing of the Pan Am Flight 103 bomber is fully known. Before BP makes money off of drilling there, the senators want to know to what extent BP helped to facilitate the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi from a Scottish prison in order to finalize and expedite a $900 million offshore drilling deal with Libya. BP has admitted to pressuring the British government to complete a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya in 2007 in order to facilitate the oil drilling deal, though it has yet to acknowledge pressuring specifically on the release of al-Megrahi.
Menendez said: “The reports about BP’s involvement in freeing this killer are more than just a side note – they add a potentially important piece to this case,” said Menendez. “If BP is found to have helped free this mass murderer, that would further de-legitimize the Scottish court’s decision to grant him compassionate release. If BP is found to have gained access to Libyan oil reserves by using a mass murderer as a bargaining chip, then make no mistake, any money it makes off of that oil is blood money, pure and simple.”
In 2001, al-Megrahi was convicted in the 1988 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland that killed 270 people, including 189 Americans. He was released ten months ago on compassionate grounds after a medical prognosis estimated that he had three months to live. In recent days, a doctor involved in making that prognosis – who had been paid by the Libyan government – acknowledged that al-Megrahi could live another decade and that the Libyan government specifically pressed for a three month prognosis to satisfy Scottish judicial requirements for compassionate release.