BP Admits It Lobbied British for Libyan Prisoner Transfer
While seeking a billion dollar oil exploration deal with Libya, BP executives admitted Thursday the company did lobby the British government to enter into a prisoner transfer agreement with the African nation.
"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," BP 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."
But the petroleum giant claims it never specifically asked Britain to set free Pan Am Flight 103 bomber Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi.
"BP was not involved in any discussion with the U.K. government or the Scottish government about the release of al-Megrahi," a BP company spokesman said.
Megrahi was convicted for helping plant the bomb that killed 270 people in 1988 -- 243 passengers and 16 crew members and 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland.
He was released on "compassionate" grounds when Scottish authorities said his "terminal" prostate cancer gave the terrorist just three months to live.
But a year later Megrahi is free in Libya and the doctor who gave the diagnosis admits the bomber could live 10 or 20 more years -- and that he had been paid by the Libyan government.
Numerous U.S. senators, including Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) now suspect Megrahi's release was connected to BP's goal of securing an oil deal with Libya.
"This is ugly," said Bert Ammerman, the former head of the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 group. "It is immoral. It is unethical. It is illegal. And there's no question there is a connection between the BP oil agreement with Libya and the release of al Megrahi."
Ammerman added he wants an investigation into what the Obama administration knew about this alleged deal before it happened.
Libyan officials have said any oil deal would be connected to a completed prisoner transfer agreement. Al Megrahi was released last year and was greeted by flag waiving crowds when he arrived home.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday she was reviewing the request by the Senators to investigate the BP oil deal with Libya and any alleged connection to the release of the Pan Am 103 bomber.