Undated Crown Office handout of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, who was convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of murdering 270 people by blowing up Pan-Am flight 103 over Lockerbie 13 years earlier, but has always denied any involvement.
Earlier this month, nearly a year after diagnosing Abdel Baset al-Megrahi with prostate cancer and saying he had three months left to live -- a diagnosis that helped secure the release of the only individual convicted in the attack on compassionate grounds -- Dr. Karol Sikora says the still-living Megrahi may live 10 years or more.
At the time of the original diagnosis, oil corporation BP was two years into negotiations with Libya, Megrahi's native country, about off-shore drilling. The $900 million deal was finalized only after Megrahi's release.
In light of the news that Megrahi, reportedly living comfortably in Libya, may live that much longer, Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, with their New Jersey counterparts Sens. Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg, called for the U.K. to reexamine Megrahi's release to see whether BP was involved.
Although the evidence is only "circumstantial," it "points to the fact that there was a trade-off release: the terrorist in exchange for an oil contract," Schumer said on the "Today Show" this morning.
BP admits that it lobbied in favor of a prisoner swap between the UK and Libya, but denies mentioning Megrahi in negotiations.
The UK has said it will not revise its decision to release Megrahi, who was convicted in 2001 of the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people, and released by a Scottish court ruling in 2009. The US State Department has said there's little they can do, "Today Show" anchor Meredith Vieira reported while interviewing the senators, but Gillibrand says they're asking the UK to reconsider.
The senators are also calling for a moratorium on drilling off the Libyan coast. "We do not think that BP should be allowed to drill until we have resolution on this issue," Gillibrand said. Although the U.S. doesn't have the authority to call such a moratorium, "we are calling the UK to assist us in this," she said.
"The only pressure we have is public pressure," Schumer told Vieira. "But this is so outrageous and beyond the pale...I think if public pressure mounts, [Britain]'ll have to do something."
Schumer continued, "This also shows that BP has had a series of charges of not behaving properly, whether it's in the gulf, whether it's here, whether it's in previous explorations--it calls into question how the company performed in general and what its general ethical compass was."
Megrahi has maintained his innocence since his accusation.