A new report out today by four U.S. Senators alleges British officials coaxed Scottish leaders into lying about Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset Ali al-al-Megrahi's imminent death so that he could be released. The move was encouraged in order to bypass "commercial warfare," which included holding oil contracts hostage, by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
The report, obtained by NBC News, says that Megrahi, the former Libyan intelligence officer convicted of the bombing, was released after senior officials under former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown pressured Scottish authorities to set him free, and that the health reports used to justify that release were falsified.
The bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland (Pan Am Flight 103) killed 270 people, including 189 Americans.
They did so in order to protect British business interests in Libya, including a $900 million BP oil deal that the Libyans had threatened to cut off, as well as a $165 million arms sale with a British defense firm that was signed the same month al-Megrahi was freed from prison, the report states.
“This was a case in which commercial and economic considerations trumped the message of our global fight against terrorism,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., one of the four senators who commissioned the report by a Senate investigator.
"God forbid there should be another terrorist attack. We have to make it impossible that anything like this injustice takes place again," he added.
Scottish officials, however, reject the notion. "We totally reject their false interpretation," a Scottish government spokesperson said in an emailed response to NBC News. The decision to release Megrahi, the spokesperson claims, "was not based on political, economic or diplomatic considerations, but on the precepts of Scots law and nothing else." British officials also denied involvement.
The report was signed by Democrats Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg, both from New Jersey, and the two Democratic senators from New York, Charles Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand.