Report: Lockerbie bomber release canceled

Aug. 17, 2009 at 10:02 AM
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EDINBURGH, Scotland, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Scotland has dropped plans to release Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi due to U.S. pressure, The Times of London reported Monday.

Unnamed "senior sources" told the newspaper there was now "no chance" of al-Megrahi being sent back to Libya on humanitarian grounds this week as had been expected.

The Times said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton intervened in the matter, prompting Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond to speak to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill Friday, reportedly telling him there will be an international backlash if al-Megrahi, who has advanced prostate cancer, is released on humanitarian grounds.

The newspaper said MacAskill has now abandoned plans to allow the convicted terrorist to leave Scotland in time for the start of Ramadan, the muslim holy month. A Scottish government spokesman denied there has been any U.S. pressure in the case, telling the newspaper, "We have always been aware of the American viewpoint."

Al-Megrahi has withdrawn his appeal of terrorism charges. He was convicted of plotting the 1988 bombing of a Pan-Am jet above Lockerbie, Scotland, in which 271 people died.

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