[This is the headline over a report published yesterday on The Guardian website. It reads in part:]
Libya's relations with Britain have been flourishing across the board since the controversy over the release of the Lockerbie bomber, one of Muammar Gaddafi's senior ministers said today.
Libya was "delighted" at Abdelbaset al-Megrahi's return home from a Scottish prison last August and still insists he is innocent of the murder of 270 people on Pan Am 103, said Abdel-Fatah Yunis al-Obeidi, the Libyan secretary general for public security. [Note by RB: The person being referred to is not Abdul Ati al-Obeidi, who led the Libyan team that had several meetings with Scottish (and UK) government officials in the run-up to Mr Megrahi's repatriation.]
Obeidi, whose rank is that of a cabinet minister, hinted that David Cameron's comment that Megrahi's release had been a "mistake" — fuelling the domestic and international row about the circumstances of the decision — was made under US pressure. In an exclusive interview on a visit to London, Obeidi said he was certain the former intelligence agent was innocent.
"Libya is delighted by his return and has always viewed him as a political hostage and never acknowledged him as a prisoner," he said. "Libya had no connection with the Lockerbie affair. The international community was led to believe that Libya was behind the incident but history will prove the truth. I am convinced that Megrahi was innocent and was a victim of a huge international conspiracy."
Libya agreed to pay billions of dollars in compensation to families of the victims because of demands from the UN, not because it admitted guilt over the worst act of terrorism in British history. It portrays Megrahi's release as a purely humanitarian issue involving a man suffering from terminal prostate cancer who supposedly had just weeks left to live.
"Megrahi is in the hands of God," said Obeidi. "He was in a Scottish prison. Those who made the three-month prognosis were British doctors. The fact that he is still alive is divine will and has nothing to do with Libya. If you have a direct line to Heaven you can check up there." (...)
"Relations are excellent and getting better every day," he said. "The problem before was the absence of trust. Now we have restored confidence and there is much greater cooperation."
Libyan officials do not normally relish discussing Lockerbie, wishing to draw a line under it after the payment of compensation, the restoration of diplomatic relations with the US and UK and a wider sense that the country has shed its pariah status as western companies, backed by their governments, queue up to do business. But Libya lobbied hard for Megrahi's release — finding a willing partner in the Labour government — and the only man convicted of the 1988 atrocity was escorted home personally by Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, the leader's son and presumed heir. During a recent lecture in London the younger Gaddafi responded monosyllabically to a question about Megrahi, focusing instead on the "new" Libya and opportunities it presented.
Libya does not expect any adverse effect on its booming relations with the UK. "The Libyans won't really care," predicted Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Tripoli "It's yesterday's problem. The worry now is Megrahi's state of health. There's no question of him being sent back to Scotland or of Libya having to pay any price. They will see it as Cameron being in the pocket of the Americans."