When talks over British exploration of Libyan oilfields stalled 2 years ago, Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi became a key bargaining chip, according to the Times of London, citing leaked letters. The letters, from London Justice officials to their Scotland counterparts, initially favored excluding Megrahi from the British-Libya prisoner exchange. But the $24-billion oil deal changed that.
The oil deal had been announced in 2007, but wasn't finalized until December, when London officials agreed to allow Megrahi onto the prisoner-exchange list. While government critics call the letters irrefutable proof that the controversial release decision was commercially influenced, government spokesmen insist the deathly ill Megrahi was sent to Libya on "compassionate grounds."