[This is the headline over a report published today on the website of the news agency Aurora News. It reads as follows:]
An FBI agent who led the US investigation into the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988 has denied claims made by a former CIA officer who told Aurora News that FBI investigators did not read vital US intelligence material related to the attack.
Robert Baer, a retired CIA Officer who was based in the Middle East, had said, “I’ve been having exchanges with the FBI Investigators and they came right out and said they didn’t read the intelligence.
“I just find that extraordinary and then later for them to comment on the intelligence and say it’s no good; it’s amazing,” Baer said.
CIA OFFICER’S COMMENTS DISMISSED
But Richard Marquise, who led the FBI investigation into the attack, dismissed Baer’s claim.
“Mr Baer had no role in the investigation and anything he knows or claims to know is either hearsay or speculation,” Marquise told Aurora News.
“I find [Baer’s claims] interesting because he has previously said that the CIA did not pass us all the information, something I doubt he would be in a position to know,” Marquise added. “I agree that there were a handful of FBI personnel (agents and analysts) who had access to all the intelligence that was passed and it may have been possible that some FBI agents who played a minor role in the case may not have seen it.”
QUESTIONS REMAIN OVER SAFETY OF MEGRAHI CONVICTION
For years controversy has surrounded the case following the conviction of Libyan Abdelbaset al Megrahi in January 2001. Campaigners, including some relatives of victims of Pan Am 103, believe Megrahi was wrongly convicted and are continuing to call for a public inquiry into the events leading to the bombing.
Baer has previously claimed US intelligence pointed to Iran – not Libya – as the source of the attack and was carried it out in retaliation for the shooting down, five months previously, of Iran Air Flight 655 by the American warship the USS Vincennes. Baer told said that a convincing case implicating Libya was still to be made.
“Richard Marquise has taken a moral position on the case,” Baer said. “I can still be convinced the Libyans did it, but I still need to be convinced of that.”
Robert Black, Professor Emeritus of Scots Law at the University of Edinburgh, has spent more than two decades studying the case.
“I’d be absolutely amazed if the FBI didn’t consider the intelligence material, if only to reject it as unreliable or unusable as evidence in judicial proceedings,” Black said.
“Indeed, there’s clear evidence that they did make use of it. A key prosecution witness, Majid Giaka, was a CIA asset and was in a Department of Justice witness protection programme,” Black added. “
“The FBI falls under the Department of Justice. And Giaka was a crucial witness in the Washington DC grand jury hearing that led to the US indictment against Megrahi and Fhimah,” Black said.