[What follows is excerpted from a report published today on the website of The Sun:]
CIA agents have revealed evidence that could have helped the controversial Lockerbie bombing prosecutions was withheld from trial, The Sun Online can reveal.
The revelation comes in an internal memo written by agents involved in the case following the 1988 bombing over Scotland that killed 270 people.
Campaigners say the document provides further evidence the plot was carried out by Libya and that the bomb was placed on the jet in Malta – not in Heathrow, as some have claimed.
It comprises interviews with seven anonymous CIA officers reflecting on the case and was published for one of the agency’s internal publications.
Much of it centres on Abdul Majid Gialka, a prosecution witness in the trial who had been nicknamed the CIA’s “Libyan asset” and “Puzzle Piece” because of his ability to link aspects of the plot.
Majid was a double agent who defected to the US from the Libyan intelligence service and leaked top secret information to the Americans.
His work with the CIA helped point the finger towards Abdelbaset al-Megrahi as the man who planted the bomb.
This was despite trial judges ruling they were “unable to accept Abdul Majid as a credible and reliable witness on any matter”.
But the CIA memo reveals there were further intelligence cables not shown in trial that could have supported his testimony.
It states: “[REDACTED] the court didn’t believe Majid on a lot of his points because the justices never saw a second, more extensive, batch of redacted cables, which would have confirmed much of what he said in court.”
It does not specify which of his claims could have been supported but suggests the reason for this could have been an attempt to protect CIA methods and US state secrets.
Today controversy continues to swirl around the guilt of al-Megrahi. Some claim he was innocent, while others say the bomb could have been placed on the jet in London and not Malta, where he operated.
The memo also notes a number of CIA operatives were denied the opportunity to give evidence – this time a strategic decision taken by the lead prosecutor – in support of Majid’s claims.
It states: “We all felt that it was unfortunate that they did not testify. They felt frustrated that they did not appear, because, had they appeared, they probably would have been able to bolster Majid’s credibility.
“They would have been able to corroborate and expand on a number of things that Majid had testified about but on which he had been badgered and belaboured and picked apart by the defence.”
Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish MP who made the decision in 2009 to free al-Megrahi back to Libya on compassionate grounds, told The Sun Online Majid had been rejected by the court as a “supergrass”.
“That he was, but it was clear he was telling the truth about a lot of what was going on by Megrahi and his co-accused.”
MacAskill, the author of the book The Lockerbie Bombing: The Search for Justice, added: “Moreover, it shows that the CIA had other informants not just in Libya but at the airport in Malta.
“That has never been put before the courts. All this shows Libya was responsible and Megrahi had a role in it.”
John Ashton, the author of a book that suggests al-Megrahi was innocent of the bombing, told The Sun Online the note about additional cables was “interesting, but I have trouble believing it”.
He added that Majid “was such a problematic witness that the CIA would have been keen to disclose anything that supported his testimony”.
[RB: It does not surprise me that CIA officers should try now to contend that the disaster that Giaka was for the prosecution case was not their responsibility and that, notwithstanding what his CIA handlers said about him in the notorious cables to Langley HQ, there was material that supported him. It does surprise me (but, alas, only slightly) that Kenny MacAskill should seek to lend weight to this blatant CIA self-justification attempt.]