There follows the text of a press release issued this afternoon by Channel 4 News. I shall be releasing the documents upon which the report is based on this blog at 7.30 pm.
Secret CIA testimony identifies true Lockerbie mastermind
Strictly Embargoed: 6.00pm Friday 20 December 2013
Please credit Channel 4 News with all content used
Documents released for the first time today reveal that both high-level Syrian officials and the CIA independently stated that a Syrian-based Palestinian group, not Libya, was responsible for the Lockerbie bombing.
An exclusive report to be broadcast on Channel 4 News reveals that a deep cover CIA agent was told by up to 15 high-level Syrian officials, and the CIA itself, that a Syrian-based Palestinian group, rather than Libya, was responsible for Lockerbie.
The documents which will feature in tonight’s programme, were made in two US court depositions by CIA agent Dr Richard Fuisz in late 2000 and early 2001.
Fuisz stated that in 1989 he was briefed by the CIA that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command had carried out the bombing. More importantly, he added that, between 1990 and 1995, 10 to 15 senior Syrian officials also told him that the group was responsible. He said that the officials interacted with the PFLP-GC’s leader, Ahmed Jibril, ‘on a constant basis’ and that he was the mastermind behind the bombing.
Fuisz gave a deposition at the request of defence lawyers for Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and Lamin Fhimah, who were, at the time, on trial for the bombing. However, the revelations came too late to be used at the trial, which ended within days of the second hearing. Three unnamed CIA officers and a US department of justice lawyer were present throughout the hearings, ensuring that Fuisz was prevented from answering many of the questions.
The PFLP-GC were the original prime suspects in the bombing. Declassified US intelligence documents claim that the group was paid by the Iranian government to avenge the 290 lives lost when Iran Air flight 665 was accidentally shot down by a US battleship of over the Persian Gulf a few months before Lockerbie. Members of the PFLP-GC were arrested in West Germany two months before Lockerbie. During the raids the police recovered a Toshiba radio-cassette player containing a barometric bomb. Forensic investigators determined that the Lockerbie bomb had also been contained in a Toshiba radio-cassette player.
The transcripts of the hearings, and related documents, are being released by Scotland’s Shame author John Ashton, who found them earlier this year in the Libyans’ legal files. Mr Ashton has been involved a Channel 4 News item about the new evidence, which will be broadcast tonight.
Mr Ashton said today: ‘This evidence is yet another indication that the real Lockerbie bombers got away and that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was wrongly convicted. The British and American governments declared in 1991 that Libya was solely responsible for the bombing, yet for years after senior Syrians were saying that the PFLP-GC was responsible. It seems it was an open secret that the real bombers lay outside Libya.’