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U.S. Regrets Scotland's Freeing Of Lockerbie Bomber

Abdel Basset al-Megrahi in 1992
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The White House has said the United States "deeply regrets" Scottish authorities' decision to release a Libyan convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

The Scottish government said earlier that former Libyan intelligence agent Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was being freed on compassionate grounds as he is dying from cancer. A Libyan government spokesman later said he was released and was being flown home.

"The United States deeply regrets the decision by the Scottish Executive to release Abdel Basset Mohamed al-Megrahi," the White House said in a statement.

"As we have expressed repeatedly to officials of the government of the United Kingdom and to Scottish authorities, we continue to believe that Megrahi should serve out his sentence in Scotland," it said.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to the families who live every day with the loss of their loved ones. We recognize the effects of such a loss weigh upon a family forever."

The bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in midair above the Scottish town of Lockerbie killed 270 people, most of them Americans.