British Gov’t Bullied Into Lockerbie Release

Not this can of worms again: Cables from the latest batch of WikiLeaks documents show the British government intimidated by Libya’s “thuggish” threats into releasing the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. Libya’s threats to cut off relations with the U.K. put Britain “between a rock and a hard place,” a London diplomat wrote to Washington. “They could have cut us off at the knees,” reads another cable. Libyan officials reportedly implied that “the welfare of U.K. diplomats and citizens in Libya would be at risk.” The cables also show U.S. officials searching for explanations for the bomber’s release. “Ambassador pressed the issue of whether Qatar had offered any financial or trade incentives,” reads one cable. Another, “Rumours that Blair made linkages between Megrahi's release and trade deals have been longstanding among embassy contacts.” Former Labour justice secretary Jack Straw denies the threats had any effect.