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White House Regrets Lockerbie Bomber Release

This article is more than 10 years old.

President Obama says the Libyan convicted in the Pan Am 103 bombing and freed Thursday by Scottish authorities must not receive a hero's welcome upon his return to Libya.

The president also said in a radio interview that the Libyan should be should be placed under house arrest.

Mr. Obama said his administration had made clear to Scottish authorities that Washington did not want the Libyan released and said it was "a mistake" to free him on grounds of compassion.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the United States had repeatedly asked Scotland to keep Abdel Baset al-Megrahi in custody. Gibbs said: "On this day, we extend our deepest sympathies to the families who live every day with the loss of their loved ones."

The State Department released a brief statement by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is on vacation, saying she is "deeply disappointed" by the decision to release al-Megrahi.

" We have continued to communicate our long-standing position to UK government officials and Scottish authorities that Megrahi should serve out the entirety of his sentence in Scotland," Clinton said.

Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement saying he was "extremely disappointed" with the release.

"The interests of justice have not been served by this decision," it said. "There is simply no justification for releasing this convicted terrorist whose actions took the lives of 270 individuals, including 189 Americans."

Holder's statement said that al-Megrahi "did not show and has not shown compassion for innocent human life, and as we communicated to the Scottish authorities and the UK government, it continues to be our position that he should have been required to serve the entire sentence handed down for his crimes."

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said the order to release al-Megrahi grew out of the convicted bomber's deteriorating health. He has prostate cancer and is not expected to live much longer.

He had served only eight years of a life sentence in Scotland for the December 21, 1988, bombing over the town of Lockerbie.

This program aired on August 20, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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