BP Parses Words in Lockerbie Bomber Release, Blames the Scots

July 15, 2010

(ChattahBox)—BP must be one of the most hated companies in America at the moment. Besides destroying the environment and economy of the Gulf region with millions of gallons of gushing oil, the embattled oil giant is now under fire for having a hand in the controversial release of Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi. The Libyan man responsible for the deaths of 270 people, many of them Americans, was released from Scottish custody in 2009 on compassionate grounds, presumably at death’s door with cancer. A year later, al-Megrahi is alive and well after arriving in Libya to a hero’s welcome. And BP is benefiting from a lucrative oil deal in Libya.

When Libyan-UK prisoner transfer talks stalled, BP admits to lobbying the British government to ensure the company’s $900 million oil deal with Libya was not placed in jeopardy. But BP denies it was involved in direct talks concerning the release of al-Megrahi, with either Britain or Scotland. If this smells fishy to you, join the club. Four Democratic Senators agree and sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanding an investigation into BP’s behind-the-scenes role in al-Megrahi’s release. And the Senators want BP to suspend its Libyan drilling operations until the investigation is complete.

Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) released their letter during a press conference yesterday:

“As you may know, in 2007, BP and the Libyan government agreed upon a $900 million oil exploration deal, following two visits to Libya over the course of three years by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair. It was reported in September of last year that BP communicated to the British government concerns that possible delays in the release of al-Megrahi could throw the oil deal into jeopardy. Further raising suspicions about circumstances surrounding al-Megrahi’s release, the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has made statements alluding to the fact that oil interests were part of the discussions.”

BP has responded with a carefully parsed statement, essentially blaming al-Megrahi’s release on the Scots, although the company’s lucrative oil exploration deal with Libya seems to have been predicated on the convicted bomber’s release from the start:

“It is matter of public record that in late 2007 BP told the UK Government that we were concerned about the slow progress that was being made in concluding a Prisoner Transfer Agreement with Libya,” the company said in a statement.

“We were aware that this could have a negative impact on UK commercial interests, including the ratification by the Libyan Government of BP’s exploration agreement.”

BP added that the ultimate decision to release the notorious Lockerbie bomber was made by the Scottish government:

“The decision to release Mr Al Megrahi in August 2009 was taken by the Scottish Government.”

“It’s not for BP to comment on the decision of the Scottish Government.”

“BP was not involved in any discussions with the UK Government or the Scottish Government about the release of Mr Al Megrahi.”

Interesting.


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