British Prime Minister David Cameron has again called the release of the Pan Am 103 bomber from a Scottish jail "completely wrong," but said he doesn't think anything can be gained from a congressional probe into the matter.
Cameron, who will meet tonight with New York-area Senators about the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi last year, said the Libyan national was a "callous killer, a mass murderer," but he said the decision to free him on humanitarian grounds was made solely by the Scottish government.
"It wasn't a decision taken by BP (British Petroleum) it was a decision taken by the Scottish government" Cameron said during a press conference with President Barack Obama. The two met at the White House today to discuss issues including Afghanistan, the BP oil spill in the Gulf, and the release of al-Megrahi, who is suffering from cancer but still appears strong a year after his release.
The meeting --Cameron's first to the White House -- comes amid growing anger over the connection between BP and al-Megrahi BP lobbied for the prisoner transfer agreement and senators are pressing for a hearing to explore possible links between the release and BP’s efforts to secure an offshore oil deal with Libya worth an estimated $20 billion.
Pan Am Flight 103 was on its way from Kennedy Airport in New York to Heathrow in London in 1988 when it exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people. Al-Megrahi was the only person ever convicted in the terrorist attack.
Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Kristin Gillibrand (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) wrote a letter to Cameron calling for 'greater transparency into the circumstances surrounding the release, address the injustice and ensure that a similar mistake is not repeated.'
The senators will meet tonight with Cameron, who said he does not know if anything can be gained from opening a Congressional probe into the decision. President Obama said he would like "any additional information that will give us insights into why the decision was made."
Cameron's two day visit the United States will also include a stop in New York City for meetings with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Wall Street leaders.
In letters to U.S. lawmakers, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday the Obama administration wants the officials in Scotland and Britain to review what she called the underlying facts and circumstances leading to the release of al-Megrahi.
The senators from New Jersey and New York had written to Clinton last week, asking for an investigation of whether oil giant BP played a role in winning the Libyan's release.
Clinton's spokesman, P.J. Crowley, told reporters Monday that a Scottish review is unlikely to reverse the decision.
Crowley also said that British Foreign Secretary William Hague sent Clinton a letter in recent days that "found no basis to that suggestion that BP in any way influenced the Megrahi decision."