July 14, 2010

Lautenberg, Menendez, Schumer, Gillibrand Want Documents Related To BP’s Role In Release Of Lockerbie Bomber

Oil Giant Admitted Discussing Prisoner Transfers While Negotiating Libya Oil Deal

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) today called on BP to fully disclose its public and private communications related to the early release of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi.  The British oil giant previously acknowledged conversations with the U.K. government about prisoner transfers while negotiating a lucrative oil exploration contract with Libya. 

“It is disturbing to learn that oil contracts between BP and the government of Libya may have affected the release of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the former Libyan intelligence agent convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, from a Scottish prison last year,” the Senators wrote.  “Serious questions have been raised about whether justice and punishment for terrorism took a back seat to back-room deals for an oil contract.”

Earlier this week, the New Jersey and New York senators called on the U.S. State Department to investigate the role that BP may have played in securing the release of Mr. Megrahi.  Lautenberg also requested an investigation and hearing by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Full text of the letter:

Carl-Henric Svanberg
Chairman       
BP International Headquarters
1 St. James’s Square
London, SW1Y 4PD
United Kingdom

Tony Hayward          
Group Chief Executive, BP p.l.c.
c/o BP America Inc.
4101 Winfield Road
Warrenville, IL 60555

Dear Mr. Svanberg and Mr. Hayward:

We are writing to demand that you immediately provide to the United States Congress all materials related to BP’s verbal or written communications with Libya, the United Kingdom (U.K.), Scotland, or other individuals or entities with regard to the convicted terrorist Abdel Basset al-Megrahi or the prisoner transfer agreement (“PTA”) negotiated between the U.K. and Libya in 2007.  This information is critical for the United States government and the American people to better understand the circumstances under which a convicted terrorist who killed 189 Americans was released from prison.

It is disturbing to learn that oil contracts between BP and the government of Libya may have affected the release of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the former Libyan intelligence agent convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, from a Scottish prison last year.  Your company has just announced it will begin deepwater drilling next month off Libya’s coast, and it is estimated BP could earn as much as $20 billion from the agreement.  Serious questions have been raised about whether justice and punishment for terrorism took a back seat to back-room deals for an oil contract.

There is reason to be concerned about BP’s reported involvement in this terrorist’s release.  Your company has already admitted that in 2007 it “told the U.K. government…it was concerned that a delay in concluding a prisoner transfer agreement with the Libyan government might hurt” the oil deal.  Causing further alarm, BP admitted the following just yesterday:  “It is a matter of public record that in late 2007 BP discussed with the UK government our concern at the slow progress in concluding a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya.  Like many others we were aware that a delay might have negative consequences for UK commercial interests, including ratification of BP's exploration agreement.”

Indeed, it appears that the completion of the PTA – in Libya’s favor with the inclusion of Mr. Megrahi – played a key role in the initial approval of BP’s oil exploration agreement with Libya.  Furthermore, it appears that bureaucratic hurdles to finalizing the agreement and beginning oil drilling off Libya’s coast were only set aside after Mr. Megrahi’s ultimate release from prison and return to Libya.

It is based on your company’s comments and other information that Congress is interested not just in the public record – but also the private record – to shed light on exactly how and why Mr. Megrahi is now living freely in Libya.  We presume you agree that these questions must be answered fully and without delay.  The American public and the families of the victims of Pan Am 103 deserve no less.  We look forward to your prompt reply. 

Sincerely,

FRANK R. LAUTENBERG                                                            

ROBERT MENENDEZ

CHARLES E. SCHUMER

KIRSTEN E. GILLIBRAND