El 'caso Lockerbie'

Cable sobre la inminente liberación de Megrahi

Los estadounidenses se preparan para la entrega después de que Reino Unido señalase que una negativa hubiese tenido "efectos desastrosos"

ID:220992
Date:2009-08-16 15:40:00
Origin:09TRIPOLI663
Source:Embassy Tripoli
Classification:CONFIDENTIAL
Dunno:09TRIPOLI662
Destination:VZCZCXRO3710
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHTRO #0663/01 2281540
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P R 161540Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5161
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1122
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0795
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0564
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 5702

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000663

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/MAG, EUR/WE, H, AND L

E.O. 12958: DECL: 8/16/2019
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, UK, LY
SUBJECT: CONFLICTING MESSAGES ON PENDING RELEASE OF ABDEL BASSETT
AL-MEGRAHI

REF: TRIPOLI 662

TRIPOLI 00000663 001.2 OF 002


CLASSIFIED BY: Joan Polaschik, Charge d'Affaires, U.S. Embassy
Tripoli, Department of State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (C) Summary: Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa told the
British Ambassador August 15 that convicted Pan Am 103 bomber
Abdel Bassett al Megrahi is a very ill man, too ill for anything
but a quiet return to his family. While the British Ambassador,
who had raised the Megrahi case on instructions from London, was
encouraged by Kusa's comments, he also noted that only one man
-- Muammar al-Qadhafi -- would decide Megrahi's true reception
in Libya. Building on Qadhafi's comments to CODEL McCain (ref),
the Executive Director of the Qadhafi Development Foundation
(QDF) told us August 16 that the Libyan Government "as a
democracy" could not control any spontaneous demonstrations by
the people in support of Megrahi's return. The Libyan
Government may be gearing up for a two-pronged approach on
Megrahi's return: an official policy of no celebrations,
coupled with a disingenuous denial of any involvement in
"spontaneous" celebrations that could erupt upon Megrahi's
return. It may be useful to engage Foreign Minister Musa Kusa
on this issue. End summary.

UK AMBASSADOR: MUSA KUSA INDICATES A QUIET RETURN

2. (C) UK Ambassador Sir Vincent Fean told the Charge August 15
that he had met Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa earlier on the
same day, on instructions from London, to discuss the potential
release from a Scottish prison of convicted Pan Am 103 bomber
Abdel Bassett al Megrahi. Stressing that he had addressed the
issue as a hypothetical scenario, Fean said that he had urged
the Libyan Government to handle Megrahi's possible release in a
very low-profile manner. According to Fean, Kusa responded that
Megrahi is a very sick man, and is too ill for anything but a
quiet return to his family. While the British Ambassador
interpreted Kusa's response as positive, he also noted that only
one man -- Muammar al-Qadhafi -- would determine Megrahi's true
reception in Libya. He expects to receive a personal letter
from Prime Minister Gordon Brown to Qadhafi on this issue, for
delivery this week.

3. (C) The British Ambassador expressed relief that Megrahi
likely would be returned to Libya under the compassionate
release program. He noted that a refusal of Megrahi's request
could have had disastrous implications for British interests in
Libya. "They could have cut us off at the knees, just like the
Swiss," Fean bluntly said. He also expressed hope that the
Megrahi issue would not have a negative impact on U.S.-UK
relations, commenting that "we have lots of other issues on the
agenda right now." The Ambassador stressed that he had no
further information on timing for Megrahi's possible release but
said that he expected a decision "soon."

QADHAFI FOUNDATION: THE PEOPLE WILL DECIDE HOW MEGRAHI IS
RECEIVED

4. (C) During an August 16 meeting, QDF Executive Director Yusuf
Sawani passionately argued on behalf of Megrahi's right to
receive compassionate release from the Scottish judicial system.
Stating that "everyone in Libya was more than surprised by the
official USG reaction on the issue," he argued that the United
States, as a civilized, democratic nation, should not stand in
the way of an official decision made by the Scottish judicial
system. He described the U.S. justice system as infamous for
making mistakes and jailing innocent people but emphasized that
even convicted criminals were entitled to certain rights within
the U.S. legal system. Referring to CODEL McCain's recent press
statements, he said that he understood that U.S. congressmen
must respond to the positions of their constituencies, but he
did not understand why members of the U.S. Administration would
object to Megrahi's release on compassionate grounds. He
accused the U.S. Administration of attempting to interfere
politically with the Scottish judicial system, in an effort to
exact "revenge" on Megrahi for his crimes.

5. (C) The Charge reminded Sawani that the U.S. position
remained unchanged: while we will not interfere in the Scottish
procedures, we continue to believe that Megrahi should serve out
the remainder of his life sentence in a Scottish prison. Noting
that the repatriation of Megrahi was recently unveiled by the
QDF as one of its three priority objectives, the Charge strongly
urged Sawani and the QDF to treat Megrahi's potential return in
a low-key manner. Sawani expressed agreement that the official
Libyan Government response to a Megrahi release should be quiet,
but he insisted that the Libyan people would ultimately decide
how to react to Megrahi's return. Although he denied that the
QDF would play any role in organizing any demonstrations in
support of Megrahi, Sawani asked heatedly whether the U.S. would
demand that the Libyan Government set up barricades and send

TRIPOLI 00000663 002.2 OF 002


police to quell demonstrations in honor of Megrahi's return.
"No one can object to Libyans expressing their feelings if
Megrahi comes back," he said, "this is democracy." Sawani
warned that U.S. objections to Megrahi's release would resurrect
Libyans' former views of the U.S. as a "tyrant nation," to which
the Charge responded that a hero's welcome for Megrahi
undoubtedly would elicit a similarly strong reaction among the
American people. Sawani conceded that it would be important for
both sides to carefully manage this extremely sensitive issue.

6. (C) Comment: Based on comments from Kusa and Sawani, the
Libyan Government may be gearing up for a two-pronged approach
on Megrahi's return: an official policy of no celebrations,
coupled with a disingenuous denial of any involvement in
"spontaneous" celebrations that could erupt upon Megrahi's
return. The latter scenario makes sense in the context of
Muammar and Muatassim al-Qadhafi's comments to CODEL McCain that
the GOL could not prevent the Libyan people from giving Megrahi
a hero's welcome (ref). Given Foreign Minister Musa Kusa's
pragmatic understanding of the broader strategic interests at
stake, it may be useful to engage him on this issue. End comment
POLASCHIK
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