JANUARY 21, 2010
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on January 14th against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to obtain documents related to the United Kingdom’s release last August of convicted terrorist Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who was serving a life sentence for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. Judicial Watch seeks information that will shed light on what role, if any, the United States played in the decision to release al-Megrahi.
On August 20, 2009, the United Kingdom came under heavy fire for releasing the former Libyan intelligence officer from prison on “compassionate grounds” due to the fact al-Megrahi suffers from terminal prostate cancer. The British government also reportedly attempted to include al-Megrahi as part of a prisoner transfer pact signed with Col. Muammer al-Gadaffi’s Libyan government in 2007 in order to help secure oil contracts for British companies.
Al-Megrahi, who received a hero’s welcome upon returning to Libya, was given three months to live at the time of his release. However, now five months after his release, al-Megrahi is reportedly alive and living with his family in Libya. Convicted in 2001, al-Megrahi served only eight years of his life sentence.
Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, filed on January 14, seeks “all communications with/between the FBI and the United Kingdom concerning the August 20, 2009 release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the former Libyan intelligence officer who was convicted of 270 counts of murder for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.”
Judicial Watch filed its original FOIA request on September 10, 2009. By law, the FBI was required to respond by October 8, 2009. However, to date, the FBI has not provided any documents responsive to the request, nor has the agency provided an explanation as to why documents must be withheld.
“The decision to release al-Megrahi from prison was an affront to justice and an insult to the families of the victims of the Pan Am tragedy. Al-Megrahi’s release also served to rally terrorists around the world. The American people deserve to know what role, if any, the United States government played in the horrible decision to release a known terrorist from prison. Frankly, I’m concerned the Obama administration did not do enough to prevent this terrorist’s release. The FBI has an obligation to the American people and the victims’ families to release all relevant documents as soon as possible,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.