CNN State Department Producer
Britain on Friday rejected claims made by the son of Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi that the release of the Lockerbie bomber was linked to trade deals between Libya and Britain.
Sief al-Islam made the comments in an interview with Libyan channel Al Mutawassit, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. The interview was conducted while al-Islam was flying from Scotland to Libya on Thursday with Abdelbaset al Megrahi on board, according to AFP.
Al Megrahi had been serving a life sentence for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in which 270 people, including 189 Americans, were killed. Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill freed him after doctors concluded he has terminal prostate cancer and estimated he has three months to live.
"All British interests were linked to the release of Abdelbaset al Megrahi," AFP reported, citing the Al Mutawassit broadcast.
"In all commercial contracts, for oil and gas with Britain, (al Megrahi) was always on the negotiating table," al-Islam said, according to AFP, adding that then Prime Minister Tony Blair raised al Megrahi's case each time he visited Libya.
The British Foreign Office in London promptly denied the claims, saying in a statement issued late Thursday that "there is no deal."
"No deal has been made between the UK Government and Libya in relation to Megrahi and any commercial interests in Libya," said the statement, obtained by CNN. "All decisions relating to Megrahi's case have been exclusively for Scottish ministers, the Crown Office in Scotland and the Scottish judicial authorities."
Al-Islam also called al Megrahi's release "a victory that we offer to all Libyans," according to AFP.
The State Department blasted al-Islam's comments. Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley told CNN that "al Megrahi is a terrorist and mass murderer, and any triumphalism is disgusting."
"We have told the Libyans that he should not be considered a hero - not today, not ever. The Libyans are aware that their treatment of Megrahi will have a profound impact on our bilateral relationship," Crowley said.
President Barack Obama on Friday said the joyous welcome al Megrahi received after arriving in Libya was "highly objectionable." British officials also offered criticism.
Al Megrahi always maintained his innocence, complaining that he had to spend years in prison for something he did not do.
"The remaining days of my life will have to be spent under the shadow of the wrongness of my conviction," he said in a statement issued Thursday through his attorney. He also offered sympathy to the families of the victims.
The Libyan government had accepted responsibility for the bombing and compensated victims' families in a $2.7 billion deal which paved the way for sanctions against LIbya to be dropped and for Tripoli to improve ties with the West.
But on Thursday after al Megrahi's return, the Libyan official news agency JANA issued a statement from the government saying that al Megrahi was "a political hostage," as evidenced by his release.
Statement by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the Chairman of the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, on the release of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi
The efforts of the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation to secure the release of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi from prison have succeeded, and he is now home in Libya.
On the occasion of this historic event, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Government of Scotland for taking this courageous decision and for its understanding of the special humanitarian circumstances of the case. This decision reaffirms the Libyan people’s confidence in the Scottish people and their government. This confidence was felt as well when the Leader decided to accept the trial before the Scottish judge. As the Leader announced on 2 March 1999, the extradition of Abdul Basset al-Megrahi to the Government of Scotland occurred because of our confidence in the Scottish people.
I would also like to personally thank our friends in the British government who played an important role in reaching this day, and I can assure them that the Libyan people will never forget the courageous stand of the British and Scottish governments. I can also assure them that the friendship between our people will continue to be strengthened and that this past chapter is now firmly behind us.
I also turn to the families of the victims with sympathy and ask them to consider that even though Abdel Basset al-Megrahi has declined to pursue his appeal, it does not change the reality that there is a great deal of data, evidence and new facts that attest to his innocence. It is my hope that this will be proven one day.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi Chairman of the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation
When other boys were playing football, learning to drive and chasing girls, Tyler Edmonds was a child locked up with adults, serving a life sentence in a Mississippi prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
Today, Edmonds is a free man. But he still holds a lot of resentment toward the state expert who helped to convict him of murder.
“I think that he’s the dirt of the Earth, the scum of the Earth,” Edmonds, 20, told CNN. “If anybody deserves to be in jail, it’s him.”
The target of Edmond’s scorn is Dr. Steven Hayne, a Mississippi forensic pathologist who testified at Edmonds’ 2004 trial. Edmonds, then only 14, was accused of murdering his brother-in-law, Joey Fulgham, who had been shot in the head with a single bullet.
Dr. Hayne performed the autopsy on Fulgham and concluded that “within reasonable medical certainty,” two people had likely fired the murder weapon. Dr. Hayne based his findings on his examination of the gunshot wound.
CNN has learned that the federal budget deficit is now projected to be $9-trillion, over 10 years. That’s up from the previous estimate of $7-trillion.
Also tonight, confusion over a star athlete’s gender. 18-year old South African runner, Caster Semenya won the gold medal in the world women’s 800 meter event in Berlin. But that achievement has been overshadowed by a gender verification test ordered by athletic officials.
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Professor of Biology and Gender Studies
With all of the attention given to Caster Semanya, the new women’s champion and world record holder for the 800 meter run, you would think that the problem of sex verification in women’s athletics was brand new. But ever since 1912, when women gained the right to compete in the Olympics, sports officials have worried that a man would masquerade as a woman in order to win (a woman’s) medal.
Olympic officials long have been vigilant. Early on, female Olympians had to parade naked in front of a board of examiners. If they had breasts and a vagina, they counted as women. But with time (and complaints from the female athletes) athletic officials opted for what they thought was a more scientific approach—compulsory testing of all competitors in women’s events for XX or XY chromosomes. By 1968, when this type of test became the official marker of sex, scientific advances made it a simple matter to scrape out a few cheek cells and look for that second X. As it turns out, however, real bodies are not that simple.
Take, for example, the case of Maria Patiño, who, in 1988 was Spain’s top woman hurdler. When her verification test revealed that she had a Y chromosome, she was stripped of her title, Spain revoked her scholarship, her boyfriend left her, and her life was thrown into disarray. Although at the time she did not know it, she later learned that she had a disorder of sexual development (DSD) that made her cells unable to respond to testosterone. As a result, physically, physiologically, and psychologically she was a female. After a protracted battle, she convinced officials of this fact and four years later rejoined the Spanish Olympic squad.
CNN Ticker Producer
If President Obama wants to catch the White Sox-Red Sox games next week while he vacations in Martha's Vineyard, he'll probably see the latest ad to attack his health care reform proposals.
Conservatives for Patient's Rights, a group founded earlier this year by former health insurance executive Rick Scott, says it will spend close to $150,000 next week to air a 30-second television spot in the Boston media market coinciding with Obama's vacation in the area.
Among the stations the group plans to air the ad on is NESN, the network that will broadcast the four-game series next week between Obama's Chicago White Sox and the Boston Red Sox.
Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge says he successfully countered an effort by senior Bush administration officials to raise the nation's terror alert level in the days before the 2004 presidential vote.
"An election-eve drama was being played out at the highest levels of our government" after Osama bin Laden released a pre-election message critical of President George W. Bush, writes Ridge in his new book, "The Test of Our Times."
Attorney General John Ashcroft and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld strongly advocated raising the security threat level to "orange," even though Ridge believed a threatening message "should not be the sole reason to elevate the threat level."
The former Pennsylvania governor also writes that he saw no reason for the move, which he now calls a bad idea, because additional security precautions had already been taken in advance of the election.
"We certainly didn't believe the tape alone warranted action, and we weren't seeing any additional intelligence that justified it. In fact, we were incredulous," Ridge said of the push. "... I wondered, 'Is this about security or politics?' "
The idea that an attack might take place had been discussed, he says. "But at this point there was nothing to indicate a specific threat and no reason to cause undue public alarm. ... It also seemed possible to me and to others around the table that something could be afoot other than simple concern about the country's safety."
In the end, the threat level was not raised.
CNN has learned that the federal budget deficit is now projected to be $9-trillion, over 10 years. That's up from the previous estimate of $7-trillion. That red ink is proving to be red meat for critics of the Obama Administration, who say we simply can't afford bailouts, stimulus and, possibly, health care reform. Tom Foreman's got details of how this new number is changing the health care debate.
Also tonight, former Bush administration officials are knocking allegations from Tom Ridge, the former secretary of homeland security, who wrote in an upcoming book that key cabinet members tried to play politics with terror alert levels, just four days before the 2004 presidential election. We will dig deeper with CNN National Security Contributor and former Homeland Security Adviser to President Bush, Frances Townsend, and CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist Paul Begala.
Plus, confusion over a star athlete’s gender. 18-year old South African runner, Caster Semenya won the gold medal in the world women's 800 meter event in Berlin. But that achievement has been overshadowed by a gender verification test ordered by athletic officials . This amid claims that she is actually a man. Transgender medicine specialist, Dr. Maddie Deutsch will join us tonight to explain more.
Finally, new details in the murder of swimsuit model Jasmine Fiore. Her body was found in a bloody suitcase with her fingers and teeth removed. Prosecutors reveal today the body was so disfigured that authorities were forced to identify her by the serial numbers on her breast implants. There is new information on her fugitive alleged killer, a former reality show contestant. Northeastern University Criminologist James Fox will share his insight.
All these stories and much more tonight on 360° at 10pm ET. See you then!
The case of South African athlete Caster Semenya has sparked worldwide interest following reports that she will be tested by sporting officials to determine whether she is male or female.
The 18-year-old won gold in the 800 meters race Wednesday but she may be forced to return the medal if she fails a gender-verification test imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
According to media reports, the IAAF are testing to see whether Semenya has a rare genetic disorder that means she has female genitalia but male chromosomes.
This condition, known as intersex, is commonly referred to as hermaphroditism. (Some support groups say that the term "hermaphroditism" can be inaccurate and offensive, as it implies that someone is both fully male and fully female, which is a physiologic impossibility.)
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
Pigs belonging to Jan Fletcher that she owns with her partner and two other couples feed on land close to her home on August 17 2009 in Peasedown, England. This week major DIY retailer B&Q, announced that it is planning to stock modern pigsties to cater for the growing number of consumers interested in keeping animals in their back garden. Helped in part by the recession, recent evidence suggests lots of people in the UK are keener than ever to grow their own food, be it vegetables or more adventurous husbandury such as bee-keeping and pig rearing. (Photo : Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
New White House pets Budget and Deficit beg for lipstick.
Patty A Banks, Palmdale, Ca:
You still scared that Obama’s going to keep his promise about trimming the pork?