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Conspiracy in Lockerbie release denied |

Conspiracy in Lockerbie release denied

| Thursday, July 22, 2010 12:00 a.m

LONDON — Scotland’s most senior politician said Wednesday there was no conspiracy in his country’s decision to release the Lockerbie bomber, after U.S. questions over oil company BP’s influence on the process.

First Minister Alex Salmond denied the firm played a role in the release last August of the Libyan convicted of blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988. The bombing killed 270 people, including 189 Americans.

“We had no contact with BP either written or verbal or any lobbying of that kind as far as the process of compassionate release was concerned,” Salmond told BBC Radio 4.

He reiterated the denial in a letter sent to U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which is due to hold a hearing next week into the release of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who met President Obama in Washington on Tuesday, has condemned the release.

Scotland, which has broad independent legal powers, released Megrahi as it believed he had only months to live because of prostate cancer. He returned to Tripoli to a hero’s welcome and is still alive.

BP, facing intense U.S. criticism over an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, has confirmed it lobbied the British government in late 2007 over a prisoner transfer agreement between Britain and Libya, further angering U.S. senators.

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