[The following are excerpts from a long report published today on the Mediaite website.]
The recent unrest in Libya has brought a fascinating secondary headline: the reexamination of the strange case of convicted Pan Am Flight 103 bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi. Last weekend, the controversial and convicted murder was found in his opulent Tripoli home, bed-ridden and in a coma, by CNN’s Nic Robertson. But Frank Duggan, president of Victims of PanAm 103, alleges that there was no 'discovery', and that Robertson had been invited to the house, along with other reporters. These potentially damning allegations were then reported by CNN competitor Fox News. Mediaite caught up with Robertson, who explained how he found al Megrahi.
First, some background. The discovery of al-Megrahi was first reported over the weekend, which Mediaite covered Monday morning of this week. Because of the controversial nature of the release of the convicted bomber, this was then reported by many other news outlets, a nice scoop by Robertson, who is a veteran and well-respected reporter from areas of conflict. During a report on Fox News's Studio B hosted by Shep Smith, made by Jonathan Hunt cited that the head of the Victims of Pan Am 103 group was alleging that Robertson’s discovery was “trash.” Hunt reported on-air:
'In the last couple of minutes we got an e-mail from Frank Duggan, President of the group Victims of Pan Am 103. We do not have that on the screen but I will read part of it. He says in the e-mail to us “Give us a break. His family is trying to make a sympathetic character out of an unrepentant murderous monster.” He then talks about the other network which first claimed to have found Abdel Basset al-Megrahi saying, and I quote, “the CNN exclusive expose that they discovered his hiding place was total,” — (interrupting himself) I will use the word trash but he used a different view — “that reporter was invited to the house as was Sky News and the Telegraph and other newspapers and Abdelbhaset al-Megrahi’s son e-mailed this information to the Libyan people.”'
Hunt went on to report that Senator Chuck Schumer also had issued a statement that claimed “this wouldn’t be the first time that Libyan officials claimed Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was on the death bed,” before adding that there was a “whole lot skepticism that he is near-death.”
Mediaite reached out to Mr Duggan, who told us that he didn’t “have concrete knowledge of the media being invited to Megrahi’s home” and that he was just being “reasonably skeptical.” He then pointed us to a SkyNews report of Megrahi’s family emailing journalists. [RB: The above account demonstrates Mr Duggan's cavalier attitude towards evidence.]
[The following two pages of the Mediaite report consist of the transcript of an interview with CNN's Nic Robertson in which he explains the circumstances of his visit to Megrahi's bedside.]