[What follows is the rext of a report published on the website of The Guardian on this date in 2002:]
Former South African president Nelson Mandela today called for a fresh appeal in the case of the Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, and asked that the prisoner be transferred to serve out his sentence nearer his native Libya.
Mr Mandela met with al-Megrahi for more than an hour at Glasgow's Barlinnie prison, where he is serving a life sentence for murder. Megrahi was convicted last year of smuggling a bomb aboard Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie on December 21 1988. The bombing killed 270 people.
Mr Mandela today called for Scottish authorities to consider Megrahi serving his term in a Muslim country closer to his family.
"Megrahi is all alone," Mr Mandela told a packed press conference in the prison's visitors' room. "He has nobody he can talk to. It is a psychological persecution that a man must stay for the length of his long sentence all alone."
Mr Mandela added: "It would be fair if he were transferred to a Muslim country - and there are Muslim countries which are trusted by the west. It will make it easier for his family to visit him if he is in a place like the kingdom of Morocco, Tunisia or Egypt."
Mr Mandela also hopes to meet the prime minister, Tony Blair, and the US president, George Bush, to discuss the case.
Mr Mandela, who spent more than 20 years as a prisoner of South Africa's apartheid regime, said Megrahi was being "harassed" by other inmates at Barlinnie.
"He says he is being treated well by the officials but when he takes exercise he has been harassed by a number of prisoners. He cannot identify them because they shout at him from their cells through the windows and sometimes it is difficult even for the officials to know from which quarter the shouting occurs," he said.
During the 30-minute press conference, Mr Mandela described in detail how a four-judge commission from the Organisation for African Unity had criticised the basis by which Megrahi came to be convicted.
"They have criticised it fiercely, and it will be a pity if no court reviews the case itself," said Mr Mandela. "From the point of view of fundamental principles of natural law, it would be fair if he is given a chance to appeal either to the privy council or the European court of human rights."
Mr Mandela played a crucial role in persuading Libya to hand over the two men suspected of the bombing to be tried in a Scottish court in the Netherlands. He has been in touch with the Libyan leader, Colonel Gaddafi, about Megrahi's case.
Today the Labour MP Tam Dalyell, the father of the House of Commons, welcomed confirmation of Mr Mandela's visit and reiterated his belief that Megrahi was a political prisoner who had been guilty only of sanctions busting.
He told BBC Radio Scotland: "I asked him [Megrahi] what he was doing in Malta. He told me in detail how he had been a sanctions buster - getting components for Libyan Arab Airlines because of the sanctions, going to Nigeria, Brazil, above all to Ethiopia, having contacts with Boeing, in order to get much needed parts for aircraft."
Mr Dalyell said he had evidence, never presented at the trial, that may prove Megrahi's innocence. He claimed Iran had made a payment of $11m (£7.5m) to a militant Palestinian group two days after the bombing.