Did BP Trade Lockerbie Bomber’s Freedom for Oil?

The goopy oil that has finally been contained from the Gulf of Mexico has forever made the U.S. skeptical of BP’s business dealings.

In 2007 when the company signed a $900 million exploration agreement with the Libyan government, some politicians were suspicious as to why. The same month, Great Britain and Libya signed a prisoner exchange agreement that, according to MSNBC, “paved the way for [Lockerbie bomber Abdel Asset Ali] al-Megrahi’s release from a Scottish prison.”

Al-Megrahi was supposedly released on compassionate grounds as he was battling cancer and said to have only months to live. But a year after he left prison, Al-Megrahi is still alive and kicking and BP is being accused by U.S. Senators of brokering his release in exchange for oil.

“BP wanted access to Libya’s oil fields. Libya wanted Megrahi back,” said New York Senator Charles Schumer (D), “This hardly seems like a coincidence.”

Schumer and three other Democratic Senators have called for a full investigation. BP admits that it did lobby the Brits to get the prisoner swap deal done with the Libyans so it could drill off their shores, but they say Al-Megrahi was never a part of those discussions.

It’s hard to judge whether these accusations are a new form of a BP witch hunt or actually valid. With BP already having almost no credibility within the United States and Democrats clearly looking to make the company a symbol of corporate corruption, it’s easy to turn circumstantial evidence into headlines. But with al-Megrahi out of prison and not belly-up from cancer, families and friends of the 270 victims are justifiably outraged. With their wounds re-opened, few are hesitant to believe that BP was involved.

Regardless of their veracity, the allegations do bring up some good points about big business. Should prisoner trade ever be okay in the interest of private corporate interests? And what about the war on terrorism; If we just go about releasing prisoners who have committed acts of terror, why continue to fight overseas? Could it all really be just about oil?

Tell your friends!