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Lockerbie and the USA

26/07/2010

First Minister Alex Salmond has today written to Senator Robert Menendez of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, responding to his five questions in relation the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing which Senator Menendez is chairing on Thursday (July 29).

Last week, Mr Salmond issued a substantive letter to Senator John Kerry, which Senator Kerry described as "thoughtful and thorough".

View all information and documents relating to the Lockerbie case

The letter is below:

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Dear Senator Menendez

Thank you for your letters of 22 and 23 July 2010 to the Scottish Government.

I wrote to Senator Kerry in his role as Chairman of the Committee on 21 July 2010, setting out the Scottish Government's position on the key issues that have been raised in recent weeks, and Senator Kerry has noted his appreciation for what he described as a "thoughtful and thorough" reply. I have given permission for my letter to be entered into the official record of the hearing on 29 July 2010. I have also made available Scottish Government staff in Washington to answer questions from staff of Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee, and I am grateful for your acknowledgement of this and our offer of further assistance.

You have asked for further information in a number of areas. I have asked officials to respond to your requests, and responses can be found in the attached Annex.

The Scottish Government would be happy to write to you with answers to any further questions you may have. As I indicated to Senator Kerry, the Scottish Government is respectfully declining your invitations to attend the hearing.

ALEX SALMOND

ANNEX

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT

DOCUMENTS RELATING TO AL-MEGRAHI

1. Any documents including communications to and from Scottish Government officials, relating to the decision to release Al Megrahi or negotiations to release Al Megrahi. This request includes any communications between Scottish Commerce Secretary for Justice Kenneth MacAskill and UK Justice Secretary Jack Straw.

The Scottish Government has released all correspondence from the Scottish Government to the UK Government relating to these issues. Within these documents there are some redactions to protect the confidentiality of the US and UK Governments. We would be happy to remove the redactions with the agreement of the US and UK Governments.

The UK Government has released correspondence from it to the Scottish Government relating to these issues.

In addition to the above, there is a range of documents relating to the release of Mr Al-Megrahi, for example the PTA application and process, the compassionate release application and process, correspondence, and the announcement of the decision. The link below provides access to these documents.

Please note that Kenny MacAskill is the Cabinet Secretary for Justice in the Scottish Government, not the "Scottish Commerce Secretary for Justice".

2. Any documents, including communications to or from Scottish Government officials, relating to the Justice Committee investigation of the Al Megrahi release, the Scottish Parliament investigation of the Al Megrahi release, or any other investigation of the Al Megrahi case and release.

There have been two Parliamentary inquiries into these issues:

Scottish Parliament Justice Committee: Below are links to the Committee's papers, the Committee's final report and the Scottish Government's response.

3. Any documents, including communications to or from senior Scottish Government officials, relating to BP's negotiations for or interest in oil exploration in Libya .

There are no such documents.

4. Any documents, including communications to or from Scottish Government officials, relating to the British Government's position on Al Megrahi's release or transfer to Libyan custody.

All exchanges between the Scottish and UK Governments have been published where we have been given permission to do so.

The UK Government's position regarding the release of Mr Al Megrahi was stated by the then Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, in the UK House of Commons on 12 October 2009:

"British interests, including those of UK nationals, British businesses and possibly security co-operation, would be damaged - perhaps badly - if Megrahi were to die in a Scottish prison. Given the risk of Libyan adverse reaction, we made it clear .... that as a matter of law and practice it was not a decision for the UK Government and that as a matter of policy we were not seeking Megrahi's death in Scottish custody".

5. Any documents including communications to or from Scottish Government officials, relating to the US government's position on Al Megrahi's release or transfer to Libyan custody.

The US Government has refused publication of various documents. The link below contains the correspondence with the US Government about this. The Scottish Government cannot breach the long-standing practice of holding in confidence government to government communications, by publishing this material without the permission of the US Government. The Senate Committee may wish to pursue these issues. The material related to the US Government includes representations by the US Government regarding the release of Mr Al-Megrahi and notes of meetings between the Scottish and US Governments over the period 2008-9.

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Meanwhile, commenting on the publication by the US authorities of the letter from the US Embassy to the First Minister dated August 12, 2009 regarding the Al-Megrahi case, a Scottish Government spokesperson said:

"We welcome publication of all the relevant material, and, along with providing full information to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, this position has been an important part of the Scottish Government's co-operation and constructive engagement with the Committee."