Signs of a U.S. boycott in Scotland?
A general view of Greenock Prison, where convicted Lockerbie airline bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was being held in Scotland.
TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Bill Radke: The Scottish Parliament meets for an emergency session today to discuss last week's release of the Lockerbie bomber. Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was convicted of bombing a Pan Am flight over Scotland in 1988 killing 270 people, most of them Americans. Outraged Americans are trying to mount an economic boycott against Scotland. Our Europe correspondent Stephen Beard is with us now. Good morning, Stephen.
Stephen Beard: Good morning Bill.
Radke: How worried are the Scots about an American boycott?
Beard: Scottish tourist officials appear worried. They're taking this threat quite seriously. They're in the middle of a promotion right now called "The Year of Homecoming," which is aimed mainly at Americans with Scottish ancestry. American tourists are important to the Scottish economy. They spend more than $400 million a year in Scotland. And the U.S. is a very important market for Scotland. It earns about $5 billion a year for Scotland.
Radke: And how much sign is there that a boycott is actually happening and hurting?
Beard:Well it doesn't appear there is any sign yet. After all, the release only happened late last week. The Scottish Whiskey Association says it's monitoring developments very closely. It says, 'we've had these boycotts in the past.' And they tend to be rather short-lived.
Radke: Scotland called this a compassionate release, but there are signs that international trade was also a factor?
Beard:The son of the Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi is more or less quoted as saying that. That the fate of the Lockerbie bomber has figured in all the major trade talks between Libya and the U.K. The British government in London denies absolutely there's been any linkage, but there has been a lot of speculation that London may have brought a lot of pressure to bear on the Scottish government, on the Scottish administration. Whatever happens, it does seem that while Britain as a whole might benefit from greater access to Libyan oil and gas, for example, Scotland seems more likely to suffer the consequences and bear the brunt of American anger.
Radke: Our Europe correspondent Stephen Beard. Thank you.