Washington, DC – At a news conference today, U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called on BP to suspend its oil drilling plans in Libya until its role in the freeing of the Pan Am Flight 103 bomber is fully known. Before BP makes money off of drilling there, the senators want to know to what extent BP helped to facilitate the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi from a Scottish prison in order to finalize and expedite a $900 million offshore drilling deal with Libya. BP has admitted to pressuring the British government to complete a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya in 2007 in order to facilitate the oil drilling deal, though it has yet to acknowledge pressuring specifically on the release of al-Megrahi.
Menendez said: “The reports about BP’s involvement in freeing this killer are more than just a side note – they add a potentially important piece to this case,” said Menendez. “If BP is found to have helped free this mass murderer, that would further de-legitimize the Scottish court’s decision to grant him compassionate release. If BP is found to have gained access to Libyan oil reserves by using a mass murderer as a bargaining chip, then make no mistake, any money it makes off of that oil is blood money, pure and simple.”
Schumer said: “Until BP’s deal with Libya is properly investigated, this project off the coast of Libya should not break ground. If BP is truly dealing in good faith and has nothing to hide, it should cooperate with such an investigation. It almost too disgusting to fathom that BP had a possible role in securing the release of the Lockerbie terrorist in return for an oil drilling deal. The evidence may be circumstantial but if I were a prosecutor, I’d love to take this case to a jury.”
Lautenberg said: “The American people deserve to know how the Lockerbie Bomber got his ‘get out a jail free card. Today, I am calling on BP to make public all of its correspondence with British officials regarding the release of Libyan prisoners in the U.K. While Megrahi was sent home to his family, 189 American victims never made it home to theirs. Those families deserve to know if justice took a back seat to commercial interests.”
Gillibrand said: “The mystery surrounding Al Megrahi’s medical diagnosis and the abundance of circumstantial evidence that BP played a role here is outrageous and demands immediate attention. What has happened here is a total miscarriage of justice. Al-Megrahi should never have been released – period. All Americans are well aware of the dangerous behavior that BP is willing to engage in the pursuit of profits. We’ve seen the results down in the Gulf. Now we are learning that they may have had a role in letting an international terrorist, who was convicted of murdering 270 innocent people, go free.
In 2001, al-Megrahi was convicted in the 1988 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland that killed 270 people, including 189 Americans. He was released ten months ago on compassionate grounds after a medical prognosis estimated that he had three months to live. In recent days, a doctor involved in making that prognosis – who had been paid by the Libyan government – acknowledged that al-Megrahi could live another decade and that the Libyan government specifically pressed for a three month prognosis to satisfy Scottish judicial requirements for compassionate release.
Yesterday, the group of senators requested a full State Department investigation into BP’s involvement in the al-Megrahi release (http://menendez.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/?id=cbbb2f2e-0578-486f-bf92-4736e6ebd182).