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August 24, 2009

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Minister: Bomber's release supported

THE head of Scotland's government said yesterday that FBI director Robert Mueller was wrong to criticize the decision to free the Pan Am Flight 103 bomber - insisting there was public support for the release on compassionate grounds.

Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, a Libyan convicted of killing 270 people in the 1988 airline bombing, was released last Thursday because he is terminally ill with prostate cancer. He has returned to his native Libya to die.

The release was met with outrage by families of the American victims of the bombing and criticized by United States President Barack Obama as "highly objectionable."

In a letter to Scotland's government, Mueller said that al-Megrahi's release would give comfort to terrorists all over the world.

"Your action," he wrote, "makes a mockery of the grief of the families who lost their own on December 21, 1988."

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond told BBC Radio that Mueller was wrong in assuming that all those affected by the bombing were opposed to al-Megrahi's release.

"I understand the huge and strongly held views of the American families, but that's not all the families who were affected by Lockerbie," Salmond said.

"As you're well aware, a number of the families, particularly in the UK, take a different view and think that we made the right decision."

The explosion of a bomb hidden in the cargo hold of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, killed all 259 people on the plane and 11 on the ground.


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