Monday, 3 October 2011

"I didn't harm anyone. I've never harmed anyone..."

[The following are excerpts from a Reuters news agency report published this afternoon:]

Al-Megrahi, released from a Scottish prison two years ago because he was suffering from terminal cancer, spoke to Reuters from a bed at his home in Tripoli. Looking frail and his breathing laboured, he said he had only a few months, at most, left to live.

"The facts (about the Lockerbie bombing) will become clear one day and hopefully in the near future. In a few months from now, you will see new facts that will be announced," he told Reuters Television over the pinging of medical monitors around his bed.

"The West exaggerated my name. Please leave me alone. I only have a few more days, weeks or months." (...)

Al-Megrahi, who had served as an intelligence agent during the rule of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, denied any role in the human rights abuses committed by Gaddafi's administration.

"All my work was administrative. I never harmed Libyans," he said." I didn't harm anyone. I've never harmed anyone in my life."

He called the trial that led to his conviction a farce. The proceedings were held in a Dutch court under Scottish jurisdiction.

"Camp Zeist Court is the smallest place on earth that contains the largest number of liars. I suffered from the liars at Camp Zeist Court more than you can imagine," he said.

Al-Megrahi lay propped at a slight angle in a hospital-style bed. An oxygen tank stood nearby, but he did not use an oxygen mask during the interview. Members of his family were in the room with him.

Unshaven, he wore a checked shirt and had a white headdress wrapped loosely around his head.

He said that Jim Swire, a father of one of the victims of the bombing who has disputed the court's findings, maintained contact with him.

"The day before yesterday, Dr Swire sent me an email to tell me that there is a new medicine. He is trying to help me. He told me how to get this medicine."

He said had little knowledge of the circumstances surrounding Gaddafi's overthrow and that the armed groups which toppled Gaddafi had invaded his home and mistreated him.

"I don't know anything about February 17th...that's not a question for a sick person," he said, using the term by which many Libyans describe the anti-Gaddafi rebellion. "I hear airplanes overhead every day," he said, referring to NATO planes which have bombed sites in Libya.

"My house has been violated. They smashed the main door and stole my cars."

He said he was being denied medical treatment which he said was stipulated in the deal that saw him returned from Scotland to Libya.

"I was treated badly when I came back. During the latest incidents, especially in the last month, I have a shortage of all my medicines. My doctor tells me to look for medicine like anyone else despite the agreement between us and Britain," he said. "I have four pills left (of one of the medications)."

"I want to die in my house, among my family. I hope to God that I will see my country united, with no fighting or war. I hope the bloodshed will stop in Libya. I wish all the best for my country."

[It is annoying that the summary that introduces this report states that Megrahi told Reuters "his role in the attack had been exaggerated". This is not, of course, what he said.  But such is the laziness of the media, it is undoubtedly what will be headlined, as in this report on the BBC News website. (I see that the headline over the BBC News report has now -- 17.15 -- been changed.)

I am informed that the Arabic word used by Mr Megrahi in the interview was اخترع
which translates, not as "exaggerate", but as "invent, concoct, contrive, think up, manufacture, fabricate".

This blog post has been picked up by Newsnet Scotland in a report headlined Leading QC attacks BBC over ‘misleading’ Megrahi headline.]


  1. MISSION LOCKERBIE, 2011 doc. nr.7029.rtf. (google translation, german/english):

    Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, explained by a miscarriage of justice as guilty for the PanAm 103 bombing that killed total 270 people (incl. 11 resident at Lockerbie)told Reporter his role in the attack had been *exaggerated and the truth about what really happened would emerge soon.
    *The arabic word "echtera" (اخترع) was translated wrong and is called "invented"!
    His real role in the "Lockerbie-Affair", NOT in the bombing of Pan Am 103, will bring a big surprise ...

    In the "Lockerbie Affair" the former Libyan official Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi, condemn to 27 years in prison, is a political victim of a deliberate miscarriage of justice. This fact should according to Saif El Islam -- (2007, a friend of ex Prime Minister Tony Blair)-- emerge from the legal content of the unpublished files of the "Scottish Criminal Cases Reappeal Commission" (SCCRC). I think the Scottish Justice have lost all credibility...

    by Edwin Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Switzerland. URL:

  2. Funny, I thought he was near death (again, again, again, again...) a month ago.

    I am struck by the logical discontinuity: Scotland won't re-acquire him for compassionate reasons (his home is repeatedly overrun) and he has information to release, but he was innocent (not complicit) in the bombing.

    If it were helpful to him, why not release it during his FIRST appeal?

    Methinks this is interesting...

  3. The headline was not changed in the Channel 4 News report tonight, which says: "In what he says are his 'last days or weeks' left alive, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, says his role in the attack has been 'greatly exaggerated'."

    Channel 4 also reports Megrahi to have said: "The West exaggerated my name. Please leave me alone. I only have a few more days, weeks or months."

    (PS. Congrats Robert on the 300k visitors milestone recorded today!)

  4. I thought you might appreciate the NY Daily News' take on this: Megrahi Alive and Whining...

    I am sorry to say, but this looks more and more as I have said: You all got duped by teh Scottish Executive which lied to you and lied to the USA and continues to lie...

    Before you get into it...I know... he was released in accordance with blah, blah, blah, blah..yada yada yada...

  5. The BBC are still going with the misleading spin on the TV broadcasts. But the actual translation they give of Megrahi's own words is "the West exaggerated my name." That seems to me to be a reference to how he was portrayed as some sort of terrorist mastermind, henchman of Gadaffi, Libyan spy and all the rest of it, to justify the accusation against him. That's how it fits in context, as well.

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  7. MISSION LOCKERBIE, 2011, doc. nr.7032.rtf. (google translation, german/english):

    After an following explanation by Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi, about its "dubious" statement: -- "My role in Lockerbie Bombing was "Exaggerated""-- published by REUTERS, BBC and others, will break down the "House of lies" of the Scottish Justice. It is desirable that the SCCRC-files and the document under 'National Security' (PII) are not lost....
    Mr. Al Megrahi is a fair free man, he have nothing to do with the PanAm-103 tragedy.
    Please visit Friends of Justice for Megrahi on facebook:

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Telecommunication Switzerland. URL:

  8. Greetings!

    I see the misguided Scots are at it again, speaking with googlean inaccuracy about the finer points of the Arabic language. I suppose, the habits inherited from the dark ages die hard.

    1. The Arabic word introduced by Prof. Black, (اخترع), is the verb "to invent" conjugated for third-person-singular-masculine. The word means "(he) invented." Of course, in the English language the isolated "invented" could be the past tense or the past-participle doubling as an adjective, but there is no such double-duty in Arabic. Therefore, the proper comparison/contrast ought to be adjective to adjective, i.e. (مخترع) = "is invented" vs. (مبالغ فيه) = "is exaggerated", and there should be no involvement of the word injected by Prof. Black (اخترع).

    2. A video segment of the interview was published by the Telegraph, and it can be found with English subtitles at the following address: Megrahi-truth-will-soon-emerge.html

    The translation in the subtitles is imprecise and inaccurate. For example, "Someone in Tunisia" became "a Tunisian," and "to steal my cars" became "stole my cars," etc. However, the statement in question is missing from the video all together, even though the Telegraph does print it as a quote with the word "exaggerated." Why was the relevant portion kept out of the video, I have no idea. Maybe Reuters left it out before passing it to the Telegraph? I don't know.

    3. I understand from Megrahi's statement that there are some people in charge of revealing the facts, and those people are Swire & Co.

    4. I am quite puzzled by Prof. Black's statements here and elsewhere. Who told him Megrahi said "he invented" instead of "was exaggerated", and how could that make any sense in Arabic? Also, as quoted by NewsNetScotland, Prof. Black said of the Reuters lead, “This is not, of course, what he said...." My question is, on what basis is Prof. Black basing his statement, and just exactly what makes it a matter "of course"? Certainly, Prof. Black's statement is not founded on any published facts. How does the "of course" fit in there, then? What course, if not the course of Black's own predisposition?

  9. Greetings, Suliman: nicely explained!


    اخترع‎ - Invent

    Can't journalists use google?

  11. Except for those blinded by the need to see what they want to see, it must be clear to anyone that the story is nothing short of absurd.

    Modern journalism seems to be a matter of telling people what they want to hear. Maybe it was always so, and I just didn't realize it.