Leaked U.S. State Department cables show that a British government minister advised Libya in 2008 on how to win the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds.

The cables were released by the WikiLeaks website and obtained by Britain’s Telegraph newspaper.

The leaked cables say then Labor Party Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell outlined the legal procedures to a Libyan minister on winning freedom for al-Megrahi, who was said to be deathly ill with cancer.

The cable apparently contained little more than an explanation of Scottish law concerning compassionate release of prisoners.

Scottish authorities freed al-Megrahi in 2009 when they were told he had cancer and only months to live.

Another cable shows that the U.S. ambassador to Britain was told about the communication with the Libyans.

Britain has always said the decision to free al-Megrahi was made solely by Scottish authorities and that trade deals with Libya had nothing to do with his release.

But another leaked memo refers to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi thanking then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Queen Elizabeth, and British trade envoy Prince Andrew, who Gadhafi said “against all odds” encouraged what he called “this brave decision” to free al-Megrahi.

The British government has not commented on the leaked memos.

The decision to release al-Megrahi outraged the families of the Lockerbie bombing victims and al-Megrahi is still alive and living in Libya.

Al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence agent, was convicted of blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, killing 270 people.

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