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Cablegate: Mfa Official: Qatar's Involvement in Al-Megrahi

VZCZCXRO2423
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHDO #0644 3011358
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 281358Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY DOHA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9462
INFO RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1159
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI PRIORITY 0042
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L DOHA 000644

SIPDIS

EO 12958 DECL: 10/28/2019
TAGS PREL, PTER, LY, UK, QA
SUBJECT: MFA OFFICIAL: QATAR’S INVOLVEMENT IN AL-MEGRAHI
RELEASE STEMMED FROM ARAB LEAGUE REQUEST TO QATAR AS ARAB LEAGUE PRESIDENT

Classified By: Ambassador Joseph E. LeBaron for reasons 1.4 (b and d).

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(C) KEY POINTS
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-- At an October 28 meeting with MFA Minister of State for International Cooperation Khalid Al-Attiyah, Ambassador raised strong USG concerns about Qatar’s role in the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbasit Al-Magrahi.
-- Al-Attiyah said that Qatar became involved because Qatar, as 2009 President of the Arab League, had been asked by the Arab League to do so. Al-Magrahi had also petitioned the Amir for help, but Al-Maghrahi’s request was only a secondary factor, Al-Attiyah indicated.
-- Al-Attiyah, who was directly involved in the issue, stressed that Qatar had been very careful to abide by Scottish law.
-- When pressed by Ambassador over whether financial incentives were involved, Al-Attiyah replied “That is ridiculous. It was not necessary to offer money, and we did not.”

------------
(C) COMMENTS
------------

-- The Amir does have a history of responding to personal appeals from abroad for mercy, whether from prisoners seeking amnesty or political exiles seeking a home. Doha has several notable exiles. Al-Attiyah’s explanation of the appeal from Al-Megrahi as a motivating factor rings truthful, even if it was of secondary importance.
End Key Points and Comments.

1.(C) During an October 28 meeting with MFA Minister of State for International Cooperation Khalid Al-Attiyah, Ambassador raised the USG’s strong objections to the August 20 release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Adbulbasit Al-Megrahi.

2. (C) Al-Attiyah, who played a direct role in the release, explained that Qatar became involved in the issue for two reasons: first and foremost, the Arab League had asked Qatar, in its capacity as the current chair of the Arab League, to seek Al-Megrahi’s release on humanitarian grounds; second, Al-Megrahi had sent a personal letter to Amir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani pleading for humanitarian intervention.

3. (C) On the basis of these two factors, Al-Attiyah said he was dispatched to Scotland to meet with the Minister of Justice there. He made clear to the Minister that Qatar’s efforts would be conducted entirely within the framework of the Scottish law on humanitarian release of prisoners judged to have just a short time to live. On the basis of that provision, he said, the Minister of Justice rejected Al-Megrahi’s release under the Prisoner Transfer Agreement between the UK and Libya, but authorized it on humanitarian grounds.

4. (C) Ambassador pressed the issue of whether Qatar had offered any financial or trade incentives to induce Al-Megrahi’s release. Al-Attiyah strongly dismissed such speculation, saying “That is ridiculous.” It was not necessary to offer money. It was all done within Scottish law. We offered no money, investment, or payment of any kind.

LeBaron

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