[What follows is excerpted from an article published in The Wall Street Journal on this date in 2011:]
Convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi maintained his innocence in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 throughout his trial and appeals—and did so in a private letter to Libya's intelligence chief, discovered on Monday in intelligence headquarters in Tripoli.
"I am an innocent man," Mr Megrahi wrote to Abdullah al-Senussi, a powerful official who was regarded as one of Col Moammar Gadhafi's closest aides, in a letter found by The Wall Street Journal. The letter, in blue ink on a piece of ordinary binder paper, was apparently written while Mr Megrahi was serving a life sentence in the UK.
In August 2009, after serving 8½ years, Mr Megrahi was released to Libya on compassionate grounds on the basis that he had terminal prostate cancer and only a few months to live. (...)
The letter to Mr Senussi was found in a steel, four-drawer filing cabinet in the intelligence chief's office in Tripoli. The cabinet had been forced open, apparently by rebels who shot holes in the lock. The office lay in shambles, but many of Mr Senussi's personal papers appeared untouched. There was no way to immediately confirm the authenticity of the letter. (...)
Mr Megrahi was sentenced by a Scottish court to life imprisonment in 2001. In the letter to Mr Senussi, Mr Megrahi mentions that he had been jailed for seven years, suggesting it was written sometime in early 2008 or late 2007, in the run up to the second appeal of his conviction.
It is unclear why he would have had reason to profess his innocence to Mr Senussi, who was in a position to already know details about the bombing. (...)
Mr Megrahi insisted he was innocent throughout his original trial and subsequent appeals. Even after his conviction, mystery and unanswered questions about who else may have been involved have surrounded the case.
In the letter, addressed to "My dear brother Abdullah," Mr Megrahi blamed his conviction on "fraudulent information that was relayed to investigators by Libyan collaborators."
He blamed "the immoral British and American investigators" who he writes "knew there was foul play and irregularities in the investigation of the 1980s."
He described in detail his latest legal maneuvering, focusing on the testimony by a Maltese clothes merchant that was critical to his conviction. The Maltese clothes merchant in question testified that Mr Megrahi had purchased clothes from him that were later found in the suitcase that contained the bomb that brought down Flight 103.
"You my brother know very well that they were making false claims against me and that I didn't buy any clothes at all from any store owner in Malta," Mr Megrahi wrote to Mr Senussi.
Mr Megrahi also had a message for "our big brother," a likely reference to Col Gadhafi, "that our legal affairs are excellent and we now stand on very solid ground."
"Send my regards to our big brother and his family and by the will of God we will meet soon and we will be victorious," he wrote. "I only hope that the financial support will continue in the coming period," he added.
Mr Megrahi eventually dropped his appeal as a condition of his application for extradition to Libya.