Blogs > HNN > WIKILEAKS: BRITISH AMBASSADOR LIBYA WILL DO TO BRITAIN WHAT IT DID TO THE SWISS

Dec 8, 2010 11:21 am


WIKILEAKS: BRITISH AMBASSADOR LIBYA WILL DO TO BRITAIN WHAT IT DID TO THE SWISS



I can learn to love Wikileaks. True, it merely confirmed what we knew the reality to be. Still, it is fun to see the British foreign ministry, the self important Scottish authorities and even the Swiss squirming. For Libya's Gadhafi has ended up declaring Holy War Against Switzerland.

Here goes - WikiLeaks: Britain feared Colonel Gaddafi could 'cut us off at the knees' unless Lockerbie bomber was freed

Sir Vincent Fean, the UK's ambassador to Tripoli at the time, also warned that continuing to hold Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi in a prison in Scotland could have “disastrous implications for British interests in Libya”.

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, 57, was jailed in 2001 for the atrocity which claimed 270 lives in 1988. He was freed on compassionate grounds in August 2009.

The warnings were contained in secret communiqués sent from US embassy staff in Tripoli in August 2009, and produced in Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine following the WikiLeaks disclosure.

One cable said: “The British ambassador expressed relief that Megrahi likely would be returned to Libya under the compassionate release program.

“He noted that a refusal of Megrahi’s request could have had disastrous implications for British interests in Libya.”

Then the cable appeared to quote the ambassador saying: “They could have cut us off at the knees, just like the Swiss.”

The warning is thought to refer to Col Gaddafi’s call in 2008 for a jihad against the Switzerland when police arrested his son Hannibal and daughter in law Aline Skaf.

The couple were released and charges relating to an altercation with their servants dropped.

However Libya responded by withdrawing billions of dollars from Swiss banks, cutting off oil supplies, denying visas and recalling diplomats.

At the time of the release of Al-Megrahi in August 2009, Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, insisted that the UK Government had played no role in the release.

Of course, the Brits admit nothing:

On Wednesday morning, Jack Straw, who was Justice Secretary at the time of Megrahi's release, told Radio 4's Today programme that the"breathless leaks" had not"added anything at all to anyone's understanding".

He said:"It's a matter of record that I signed up to a Prisoner Transfer Agreement with Libya but the PTA was never the vehicle for al-Megrahi's release." Mr Straw continued:"He was released under long-standing Scottish law on compassionate grounds."

The Scott tried to have it both ways:

Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister, dismissed the leaks as"diplomatic tittle-tattle" but added that they did serve to vindicate the thinking behind the decision.

He said:"The cables confirm what we always said, that our only interest was taking a justice decision based on Scots law without fear or favour, which was exactly what was done, and that our public position was identical to our private one.

"They also show that the former UK Government was playing false on the issue, with a different public position from their private one, which must be deeply embarrassing."




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