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August 23, 2009

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Gadhafi hugs freed bomber

LIBYAN leader Moammar Gadhafi welcomed home with a hug the only man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people and praised Scotland for releasing him.

Abdel Baset al-Megrahi returned to Libya on Thursday after Scottish officials announced he was being freed on compassionate grounds because he is suffering from terminal prostate cancer.

Gadhafi hugged al-Megrahi, who at one point kissed the Libyan leader's hand, before sitting down with al-Megrahi and his family in the meeting on Friday that was shown on Libyan state television.

In what has been the only official Libyan reaction since the release, Gadhafi lauded Scotland for their decision.

"To my friends in Scotland; the Scottish National Party, and Scottish prime minister, and the foreign secretary, I praise their courage for having proved their independence in decision making, despite the unacceptable and unreasonable pressures they faced," Gadhafi said.

"Nevertheless, they took this courageously right and humanitarian decision," he said.

Gadhafi went on to cite "my friend Brown, the prime minister of Britain, his government, the Queen of Britain, Elizabeth, and Prince Andrew, who all contributed to encouraging the Scottish government to take this historic and courageous decision, despite the obstacles."

Gadhafi compared al-Megrahi's return to his government's 2007 release of five Bulgarian nurses and a naturalized Palestinian doctor imprisoned on charges of deliberately infecting with HIV more than 400 Libyan children.

The nurses denied the charges and said they were tortured into confessing.


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