Schumer: Extradite Pan-Am bomber, or no US aid for new Libyan government

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) says the United States should cut off aid to the rebel government taking power in Libya if the country refuses to extradite convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

If the new Libyan government continues to shield this convicted terrorist from justice, then they should not get one more cent of support from the United States, Schumer told NBC. “We put American lives and money on the line to help the Libyan people secure their freedom. It’s time the Libyan government lives up to its commitment to create a free and accountable society by handing over al-Megrahi so that justice can finally be done.”

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Megrahi was discovered by CNN reporter Nic Robertson at a villa north of Tripoli, but was described as “at death’s door.” Robertson said the terrorist was slipping in and out of a coma, and only being kept alive with oxygen and an intravenous drip. Relatives at the villa said looters had stolen Megrahi’s medicine and that he was without medical care.

The rebels’ transitional council has ruled out extraditing the convicted bomber back to Scotland.

“We will not give any Libyan citizen to the West,” Libyan Justice Minister Mohammed al-Alagi said. “Megrahi has already been judged once and he will not be judged again. We do not hand over Libyan citizens. Gadhafi does.”

Megrahi was the only person convicted in the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. The explosion killed 270 people, the majority of whom were Americans.

Megrahi was granted a compassionate release from Scottish prison in 2009 after doctors said he had prostate cancer, and likely would die within three months. But he received a hero’s welcome upon his return to Libya, and appeared at rallies for deposed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi last month as civil war tore through the country.

The issue of Megrahi’s re-arrest has been particularly potent among New York politicians, as many of the Lockerbie victims were New Yorkers. Schumer and fellow New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) previously called for Megrahi’s extradition back to Scotland. Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said the rebels should turn Megrahi over to the United States.