Press Release of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer

For Immediate Release:
July 15, 2010  
Contact:
Washington D.C. Office (202) 224-3553

Boxer, Feinstein Urge Investigation into Role of British Petroleum in Release of Lockerbie Bomber  

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein (both D-CA) today sent a letter urging Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Member Richard Lugar (R-IN) to hold a hearing and conduct an investigation into the role British Petroleum (BP) played in the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi. Seven Californians were among the 270 killed in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

BP has admitted it lobbied British Government officials in 2007 for the release of Libyan prisoners, warning that any delay in the prisoner release could jeopardize a $900 million oil exploration deal it had negotiated with the Libyan Government.

In the letter, the Senators wrote that it is critical to ascertain whether BP actively lobbied for al-Megrahi’s release. “Commercial interests—oil or otherwise—should never be prioritized over justice for victims of terrorist acts and severe punishment for convicted terrorists,” the Senators wrote.

The full text of the letter is below:

July 14, 2010

The Honorable John Kerry
Chairman
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Senate Dirksen Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Richard Lugar
Ranking Member
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Senate Dirksen Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Kerry and Ranking Member Lugar:

We write in support of the request made by our colleague, Senator Lautenberg, that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hold a hearing and conduct an investigation into allegations that the British Government may have made a deal to release convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi to help British Petroleum (BP) secure a contract with the Government of Libya to develop oil fields off its coast. In particular, we believe it is critical to ascertain whether BP played an active role in lobbying for the release of a convicted terrorist in order to secure this lucrative deal.

As you know, deeply troubling information has come to light, including BP’s admission that it lobbied the British Government for a prisoner release in 2007. According to the Wall Street Journal, BP argued that a “delay in concluding a prisoner transfer agreement with the Libyan government might hurt a $900 million oil deal it had just signed” with Libya. In addition, then-British Secretary of State for Justice Jack Straw admitted that he supported including al-Megrahi as part of these prisoner transfer negotiations, citing “overwhelming interests for the United Kingdom.” These admissions alone are a travesty of justice and an affront to the families and loved ones of those who perished when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded in the skies over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.

Seven Californians were among the 270 people murdered in this vicious act of terrorism. Stacie Denise Franklin and Paul Isaac Garrett, both flight attendants, died in this attack along with Jerry Don Avritt, a flight engineer. Matthew Kevin Gannon, a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, Surinder Mohan Bhatia, Barry Joseph Valentino, and Jonathan White also lost their lives.

Thank you for your prompt consideration of this important request. We look forward to working with you to ensure that this matter is investigated to the fullest extent possible. Commercial interests—oil or otherwise—should never be prioritized over justice for victims of terrorist acts and severe punishment for convicted terrorists.

Sincerely,

Barbara Boxer, United States Senator

Dianne Feinstein, United States Senator