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Britain will release Lockerbie documents

Meera Selva Associated Press

LONDON – The British government will make public its correspondence with Scottish ministers over releasing the Lockerbie bomber, a government spokeswoman said Monday, a day after a newspaper reported that officials believed a deal was in the U.K.’s “overwhelming interests.”

A spokeswoman at Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s office said all “relevant correspondence” between British ministers and the Scottish executive over Abdel Baset al-Megrahi would be released today.

The Sunday Times reported that the British government allowed al-Megrahi to be included in a prisoner transfer agreement because it was in the U.K.’s interest as a major oil deal was being negotiated.

Jack Straw, Britain’s justice minister, had originally tried to ensure that al-Megrahi was exempted from any prisoner transfer agreement with Libya, but in December 2007 he wrote MacAskill saying “wider negotiations with the Libyans are reaching a critical stage and, in the view of the overwhelming interests for the United Kingdom” a standard transfer agreement applying to all prisoners with no exemptions would be agreed to, the Times said.

The oil deal was concluded six weeks later.

Al-Megrahi was released this month on compassionate grounds, instead of through a prisoner transfer agreement. Scottish officials and British officials insist that there is no connection between any oil deals and al-Megrahi’s release.

“There was no deal over (the) release of al-Megrahi nor could there ever be, since all decisions were for the Scottish, not U.K. government,” Downing Street said in a statement released Monday. “The central assertion in this story is completely untrue and deeply misleading.”

Al-Megrahi, who has terminal prostate cancer, is the only man convicted in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

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