American Groups Want to Boycott Scotland after Lockerbie Release

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The Scottish government’s release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi last week has sparked outrage among some American groups. Bloomberg has more:

Visit Scotland, the government-funded agency promoting tourism, received e-mails from Americans saying they plan to cancel holidays and staff have been preparing for a backlash after the release of al-Megrahi, spokeswoman Alison Robb said. A Web site was set up to encourage people to boycott Scotland.

Most Scots support the decision and criticism in Scotland centers on the “ham-fisted” way the decision was dealt with, including news leaking out a week in advance and MacAskill’s visit to al-Megrahi in jail, Steel said.

“I think most opinion in Scotland is in favor of the decision to release him on compassionate grounds,” he said. “If it had been done quickly and quietly there would have been less of a furor.”

Visitors from the U.S. accounted for 340,000 trips to Scotland in 2008 and spent 260 million pounds ($429 million) in the country, according to figures published by Visit Scotland. U.S. citizens account for 21 percent of spending by people from outside the U.K, the organization said.

Scottish officials claim Al-Megrahi was released to Libya last week because he has terminal prostate cancer, with less than three months to live. The Scottish legal system regularly offers prisoners compassionate release when they are near death.