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Britain asks to release Lockerbie bomber

world Updated: Aug 23, 2009 19:21 IST

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In what could be interpreted as a British attempt to influence Scotland, a UK Minister asked the Scottish government to release Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmmed al-Megrahi, a media report said on Sunday.

According to 'The Sunday Times', British Foreign Office Minister Ivan Lewis wrote to Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill that there's no legal reason not to accede to Libya's request to transfer Megrahi into its custody under a treaty agreed between Tony Blair and Colonel Gadaffi in 2007.

Lewis wrote the letter on August 3 barely three weeks before Megrahi, convicted of killing 270 people by blowing up Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, was freed.

A British government source, who saw the letter, said that Lewis added: "I hope on this basis you will now feel able to consider the Libyan application in accordance with all the provisions of the prisoner transfer agreement."

The newspaper also quoted a source close to MacAskill as saying: "That clearly means, 'I hope on this basis you will feel able to approve the Libyan application'. That's the only conclusion you can take from it."

The Lockerbie bomber was finally freed from prison on "compassionate grounds" last Thursday amid claims that his release was linked to a lucrative trade deal between UK and Libya, as well as Tripoli threatening to cut diplomatic ties.