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Cablegate: Libyan Media Subdued On Megrahi Media Buzz

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PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHTRO #0660 2251546
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P R 131546Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5156
INFO RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1117
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0790
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0559
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 5697

C O N F I D E N T I A L TRIPOLI 000660

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/MAG, EUR/WE, L, AND H

E.O. 12958: DECL: 8/13/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV LY UK KMDR KPAO
SUBJECT: LIBYAN MEDIA SUBDUED ON MEGRAHI MEDIA BUZZ

CLASSIFIED BY: Joan Polaschik, Charge d'Affaires, U.S. Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1.(SBU) Although press reports from international media outlets are swirling regarding the possible release next week of convicted Pan Am 103 bomber, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, local state-run media outlets have not yet offered any commentary on the rumors, although they have reported them. "Oya," a popular and widespread media outlet run by Qadhafi's son Saif al-Islam, as well as the smaller "Al Watan" newspaper simply detailed that the Scottish press had printed an article regarding Megrahi's possible imminent release. Meanwhile, online outlet "Libya al-Youm" reprinted a Reuters article summarizing the news, with one notable exclusion - the local article, translated into Arabic, deleted quotes made by family members of Pan Am 103 victims that were included in the original Reuters piece. Other popular local media sources such as "Qurina" (print) and "Jana" (online) did not report anything related to Megrahi. Unnamed Libyan officials were cited in the press reports as having acknowledged an agreement with the Scottish Executive to refrain from comment on the case until Megrahi is released and returned to Libyan soil.

2.(C) The subdued reaction in Tripoli most likely reflects Libya's commitment not to comment on the case before any official decision is made. Local contacts did not react to the international media reports, stating that the news was not, in fact, new, and that rumors regarding Megrahi's release have been circulating for months. Post will continue to monitor local reactions - in the press, on the street, and within the government - to the possibility of Megrahi 's release in the near future. POLASCHIK

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