[This is the headline over an article by William Underhill published yesterday night on the website of The Daily Beast. It reads in part:]
Now the collapse of the Gaddafi regime has brought calls for Megrahi’s extradition to the United States or his return to prison in Libya.
For a vocal lobby in Washington, his freedom—and continuing survival—represent an affront that can at last be addressed. In the words of Sen Kirsten Gillibrand: “Seeing him participate in good health at a pro-Gaddafi rally recently was another slap in the face not just for the families of the Lockerbie victims but for all Americans and for all nations of the world who are committed to bringing terrorists to justice.”
A tad overstated? Such rhetoric certainly won’t find universal support in Britain. Megrahi is far from friendless back in Scotland, where Pan Am flight 103 crashed in 1988 killing 270 passengers and residents of the small town of Lockerbie. Campaigners convinced of his innocence are pressing the Scottish parliament for an inquiry leading to a possible appeal that would clear Megrahi’s name.
And the roll-call of big-name supporters for the Justice for Megrahi group can’t be easily ignored. On the list: Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu; the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien; Jim Swire, the parent of a Lockerbie victim, and Professor Robert Black, the lawyer who devised the special court which tried Megrahi in the Netherlands in 2001.
One more backer, the leading lawyer Ian Hamilton, has blogged: “I don't think there's a lawyer in Scotland who now believes Mr. Megrahi was justly convicted."
The group insists there’s no case for extradition on legal grounds. Says Robert Forrester, secretary of the campaign: “Mr. Megrahi is a Scots prisoner released under license and still falls under Scots jurisdiction therefore and neither Washington nor Westminster has any jurisdiction under Scots law.” But he concedes that politics may determine his fate. “The man should be left alone to continue with his medical treatment but he has become such a pawn that I can’t believe that is going to happen.”