https://newsmakingnews.com

LOCKERBIE NEWS 6/18/00

Contents:

I. MEBO TESTIMONY 6/16/00:

CLICK. MEBO PARTNER ERWIN MEISTER TESTIFIES.
© 2000 Editors Prof. Robert Black and Ian Fergusen http://www.thelockerbietrial.com/
CLICK. MEBO EVIDENCE STARTS (Note: STASI connections mentioned in testimony.)
by Clare Connelly © 2000, University of Glasgow School of Law site: http://www.law.gla.ac.uk/lockerbie/index.cfm

CLICK TO SEE MEBO'S WEBSITE.

CLICK. BBC COVERAGE OF ERWIN MEISTER'S TESTIMONY.

II. 60 MINUTES BACKS ITS STORY THAT IRANIAN DEFECTOR AHMAD BEHBAHANI KNEW IRANIANS WHO COORDINATED PAN AM 103 BOMBING.

Click.
'60 Minutes' Faces Doubts on Reported Terrorist 'Czar'
New York Times © 6/16/00
Click
. 60 Minutes' Stands by Its Report Associated Press

Click. Network backs its story on claims Iran planned Lockerbie bombing
http://www.scotsman.com Scotsman, Edinburgh 6/16/00


Mebo Partner Testifies

Crown witness number 549, Erwin Meister (the ME in MEBO) a partner in the Zurich Based firm gave evidence today in the Camp Zeist courtroom.

Meister, 62, told the court of Mebo's links with Libya. In Court, Meister said he recognised the defendant Al Megrahi, from business meetings in Zurich and Libya prior to the Lockerbie bombing.

Meister told the court that MEBO first had business dealings with the Libyan army about 1980 and that these meetings took place in Tripoli and Benghazi.

Meister who said that sometimes his contacts wore army uniforms and at other times civilian clothes.

He named his contacts as Ezzadin Hinshiri and Said Rashid, both named in the indictment as being officers of the Libyan Intelligence Services. During 1985 MEBO, according to Meister was doing regular business with Libya supplying them radio and communications equipment and had sold them a batch of 20 of their own MST-13 timers.

Meister went on to say that that on several occasions in Tripoli and once in Zurich he met a man called Abdelbaset and he pointed him out in court. Meister said he got the impression that Abdelbaset was "on the same level or even higher than" Ezzadin the Libyan Army structure.

Meister told the court that MEBO received an urgent order from Libya for timers from the Libyan army a few weeks before the Pan Am bombing, but he explained that when the order came through, MEBO did not have the correct materials to produce it's own brand timers in time. Instead they purchased Olympus timers which were to be delivered to Libya by Edwin Bollier, Meister's partner in MEBO.

According to Meister returned from Libya with the timers as they were said to be unsuitable.

Meister said he had heard about the Pan Am disaster from TV reports and that he and Bollier had discussed the tragedy.

During the first fortnight of January 1989, Meister said that Bollier looked at the batch of Olympus timers that had lain on a shelf in the MEBO office since Bollier returned form Libya on the 20th December 1988.

Meister said " Mr. Bollier called me and said look what I've discovered" In his hand he had a one of the Olympus timers and he asked me to look at it. It was programmed for 7.30 PM and the day of the week was Wednesday."

The Lockerbie bombing took place just after 7.00PM GMT on Wednesday 21st December.

Meister told the court that the Scottish Police first visited the MEBO offices in 1990 to request an interview and ask about the production of MST-13 timers.

The trial was adjourned until Monday 19th June.

Commentary

The Crown is attempting to establish a link between MEBO and the accused and timers produced by MEBO.

Wire reports on the trial today claim that Meister said that Bollier returned from Libya just before the Lockerbie bombing via Malta.

In an interview last year at his office in Zurich, Bollier told me that he did not fly back to Zurich via Malta but that he caught a Swissair flight later that day direct from Tripoli and he showed me his ticket stubs. He also showed me the duty paid receipts on the returning timers. Bollier claimed at that interview, that he was very glad that he did not go via Malta when he discovered later that Police were saying that the bomb that blew up Pan Am 103, started it's journey in Malta. He felt that he might have been accused of the bombing if he had been in Malta that day.

As he is unwilling to talk with the media, it is unclear whether Erwin Meister shares the same views as his more publicly available partner.

In developments outside of the courtroom, informed sources close to the trial have told us that the report submitted to the Crown several weeks ago by Edwin Bollier has been examined and dismissed by all parties to the trial.


MeBo Evidence Starts - Headline June 16, 2000
by Clare Connelly © 2000
University of Glasgow School of Law site: http://www.law.gla.ac.uk/lockerbie/index.cfm

Mebo co-founder Identifies first accused in court and says letter was sent to Ezzadin Hinshiri in Libya 'for our safety' which denied that information was given to Police.

Erwin Meister, the co- founding member of Mebo AG together with Mr Boilier, today confirmed knowing Said Rashid and Ezzadin Hinshri (cited in the indictment) and further confirmed that Mebo supplied them with approximately 20 MST13 timing devices. He confirmed that the printed circuit boards for these timing devices had been supplied by Thuring AG. He said these devices were supplied by Mebo in 1985 in 2 batches and Mr Bollier had delivered them personally in Libya.

Towards the close of his evidence Meister dentified the first accused, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, as a man he had previously met via Mr Ezzadin Hinshiri (cited in the indictment) in Tripoli in 1986/87. This meeting, he said, had involved Megrahi settling unpaid invoices with Mebo. He later also met Megrahi in the Mebo office in Zurich when Mr Badri Hassan was negotiating the rental of office space in Mebo's Zurich office.

Earlier in his evidence he said that additional timers had been ordered by Libya in 1988 but as parts were not avialable Mr Bollier had personally delivered olympus timers. A suitcase which had been in the Mebo office prior to Mr Bollier's departure,which the witness understood belonged to Mr Badri Hassan, was not seen again after Mr Bollier left on this trip.

He said that Mr Bollier returned from Libya via Malta prior to 21 Decmber 1988. Mr Bollier had brought the Olympus timers back with him and the witness understood that this was because they had not been suitable. Approximately 2 weeks after New Year he said that Mr Boilier brought to his attention that one of these timers showed the day Wednesday and a time of 7.30 pm. He could not confirm if this date and time were in the alarm or time display function of the timer.

The evidence led today referred to details contained within the indictment of activities leading up to the Lockerbie disaster. A number of objections to questions were raised by the defence in the form that the questions were irrelevant as they referred to periods of time or issues not contained within the indictment. The court ruled that if such evidence was shown to be relevant and non-incriminating it would be allowed. Otherwise, the court would later ignore the evidence.

Mr Meiser initially said that 2 MST 13 Timing devices were supplied to the Stasi in 1985 after the first MST 13 timers were built for Libya. Later in the proceedings interviews with a Swiss Magistrate in November 1990 and the Scottish Police were referred to where the witness had stated he did not know of any other recipients of Mebo MST 13 timers. An invoice, dated 1985, which Mr Bollier discovered in his desk in 1993, was referred to. It stated that 7 MST 13 timers had been supplied to the Stasi by Mebo. Mr Meiser could not explain why the invoice had been missing for 8 years and said poor memory had resulted in his omission of this information from those interviews with the Swiss Magistrate and the Scottish Police and when he had earlier in the proceedings suggested only two devices had been supplied.

Mr Meiser initially said he did not write a letter, written towards the end of 1993, which was signed by a Mebo employee, Lampart which states that the employee remembers making the timers for the German Company ITU, now known to be the Stasi. He did recall writing the letter when shown a court production of a transcription of a police interview wherein he had confirmed writing the letter. He read out the section of the police interview where he had said that Mr Bollier told him what to write in the letter and Lampart signed it at Mr Bollier's instigation.

The Crown asked Mr Meiser if Mr Bollier had visited Libya in 1993 prior to that letter being written. He confirmed that he had and it was in connection with financial help Mebo were seeking. The help was to be in the form of a loan of 1.8 million Swiss francs. Meiser said the loan was not paid but that it was not connected with the letter.

Mr Meiser confirmed that Mebo AG rented office space to a company, ABH, in their premises in Zurich. Mr Badri Hassan was the company representative who had negotiated and paid the rent. The first acused, Megrahi accompanied him at this time. He stated that peole were rarely seen in the office but that Mr Badri Hassan had been there 5-10 times during the rental.

The final production referred to during the day's proceedings was a letter sent by Mebo to Ezzadin Hinshiri in 1991 wherein they stated that they had not discused Libya with the authorities and had told the police they had supplied timers to a man in Lebanon. He admitted the content of the letter was not factually accurate and stated that they did it for their safety and to keep Mr Ezzadin Hinshri calm. He also said that they feared Libya would think they had said bad things about them and they wished to protect ongoing business. He agreed that they wanted to make sure that Libya didn't know what they had told the police. He confirmed that he had initially told the police that timers hadonly been supplied to Libya and later, after they remembered, they told the authorities about supplying timers to the Stasi.

Earlier in the day the court heard evidence from two witnesses who had worked for Thuring AG in Switzerland. They gave evidence in relation to circuit boards supplied by the company to Mebo AG in 1985.

Mr Meiser will be cross- examined by defence counsel on Monday.


Network backs its story on claims Iran planned Lockerbie bombing
http://www.scotsman.com Scotsman, Edinburgh 6/16/00


THE CBS News programme 60 Minutes yesterday stood by its story about an Iranian defector who claims Tehran planned the Lockerbie bombing - a man the CIA and FBI reportedly have branded an impostor.

"We're not distancing ourselves from the story at all," a CBS spokesman, Kevin Tedesco, said last night. "Nothing has changed."

The segment profiled an Iranian defector who claimed t he had co-ordinated Iran's overseas assassinations and terrorist operations.

The man, who identified himself as Ahmad Behbahani, said Iran blew up Pam Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 people.

Such a claim would disrupt the trial now under way and harm US efforts to improve relations with Iran, correspondent Lesley Stahl noted, "if his story can be confirmed - and American intelligence is trying to do that right now".

But the CIA and FBI reportedly concluded the man lacked basic knowledge of Iran's
intelligence apparatus.

"All this has to be seen through what is the murky prism of Middle Eastern politics," Mr
Tedesco said. "There are many people who have reason to discredit this guy."

He added: "Any time we are aware of a suspect in the custody of the CIA being debriefed about some of the biggest, worst terrorist acts ever committed, and who has been confirmed by high government sources as being in Iranian intelligence, that's a story we're going to put on the air. And we'd do it again."

Sixty Minutes could film or record the man, who was under armed guard in a Turkish refugee camp. Instead, an Iranian-born producer entered the camp and questioned him.

She then appeared on camera with Stahl outside the camp, relaying the man's claims he had been responsible for the murders of numerous Iranian dissidents and intellectuals and had evidence that Iran carried out the 1996 bombing in Saudi
Arabia that killed 19 US soldiers.

The man also told CBS how Iran carried out the bombings of the Israeli embassy and a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Moments after a second clandestine meeting by the producer with the man, he was taken away to Ankara, Stahl reported. "He managed to get a message to us that he was afraid the Turks were going to send him back to Iran, where he fears he faces certain death."


'60 Minutes' Stands by Its Report
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A7383-2000Jun16.html
By Frazier Moore © 2000 AP Television Writer Friday, June 16, 2000; 2:24 PM

NEW YORK -- The CBS News program "60 Minutes" isn't backing down from its story about a self-described Iranian terrorist czar, even as the CIA and FBI reportedly brand him a liar.

"We're not distancing ourselves from the story at all," spokesman Kevin Tedesco said Friday. "Nothing has changed."

The June 4 segment profiled an Iranian defector who days earlier claimed that he had coordinated Iran's overseas assassinations and terrorist operations.

The man, who identified himself as Ahmad Behbahani, said it was Iran that blew up Pam Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, killing 270 people - a crime for which two Libyans are on trial.

Such a claim would disrupt that trial and damage State Department efforts to improve
relations with Iran, correspondent Lesley Stahl noted in the report, "if his story can be
confirmed - and American intelligence is trying to do that right now."

But after interviews conducted by intelligence officials, the CIA and FBI concluded the man lied and lacked basic knowledge of Iran's intelligence apparatus, according to a U.S. intelligence official quoted anonymously by The Washington Post on Sunday.

"All this has to be seen through what is the murky prism of Middle Eastern politics,"
Tedesco of "60 Minutes" said. "There are many people who have reason to discredit this guy."

Restating the show's faith in its report and the decision to air it, he said: "Any time we
are aware of a suspect in the custody of the CIA being debriefed about some of the biggest, worst terrorist acts ever committed, and who has been confirmed by high government sources as being in Iranian intelligence, that's a story we're going to put on the air. And we'd do it again."

For its report "60 Minutes" was not able to film or record the man, who was under armed guard in a Turkish refugee camp. Instead, an Iranian-born associate producer was able to sneak into the camp and question him a few days before the interview was aired.

She then appeared on camera with Stahl outside the camp, relaying additional claims by the man that he had been responsible for the murders of numerous Iranian dissidents and intellectuals, and that he had evidence that Iran carried out the bombing of the Khobar Towers apartment complex in Saudi Arabia in which 19 American
soldiers were killed in 1996.

Moments after a second clandestine meeting by the producer with the man, he was taken away by Turkish authorities for Ankara, 150 miles away, Stahl reported. "He managed to get a message to us that he was afraid the Turks were going to
send him back to Iran, where he fears he faces certain death."

"60 Minutes" doesn't know his current whereabouts, Tedesco said.

C 2000 The Associated Press


'60 Minutes' Faces Doubts on Reported Terrorist 'Czar'
New York Times © 6/16/00

16/06/00 NY Times On June 4, the CBS News program "60 Minutes" showed a striking report as its lead segment: A man claiming to be Ahmad Behbahani, a "czar of Iranian state-sponsored terrorism," was being held under armed guard in Turkey, where he was seeking to get his story out. Interviewed off camera, he told a compelling story. Among other things, he said that he had planned the bombing of the Pan Am jet over Scotland in 1988, as well as two other terrorist acts that have been tied to Iran, the bombing of the KhobarTowers building in Saudi Arabia in 1996 that killed 19 American soldiers and the attack on a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994 that killed 86 people.

Nearly two weeks later, "60 Minutes" is still not sure who the man is, and the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are saying he is an imposter. In addition, "60 Minutes" has backed off somewhat on his importance. "Our source, who is at a high level in our government and whom we trust totally, has told us that the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. have concluded he was in Iranian intelligence, but not as high up as he claimed he was," said Lesley Stahl, the correspondent who reported the story. But the network is defending its treatment of the interview, saying it had taken great care to make clear that it was reporting only the man's claims.

"60 Minutes" said it found the man from a tip provided by Mr. Bani-Sadr. It rushed to the refugee camp in central Turkey to secure the information that Mr. Bani-Sadr said the man was eager to disclose. The program used a former C.I.A. terrorism specialist, Robert Baer, as a consultant, and he managed to ask the man a question about an assassination in Iran that, Mr. Baer said, only someone directly involved could have known. "We had Baer, who is a very good guy, saying frankly this guy knows some things," said Don Hewitt, the executive producer or "60 Minutes." But Mr. Hewitt acknowledged that "when you're in this world, you often have no idea what the truth is," and that was one reason he had hesitated to go with the segment.

Mr. Hewitt said he decided to show the interview after Ms. Stahl reported receiving word from the C.I.A. that the agency's chief in Ankara had interrogated the man for two days, a sign of his importance, and finally secured a comment from an official in Washington that the man was at least "in Iranian intelligence." Mr. Hewitt said, "I said that was enough to go with the story."

Ms. Stahl said, "We tried very hard to make sure this was right." She noted that the actions of the Turks, who followed the "60 Minutes" crew everywhere it went and guarded their subject much more tightly than anyone else in the camp, indicated to her that he was somebody important. "We were never told, by any of our sources: Don't go on the air with this, you're making a mistake," she said. In addition, Ms. Stahl said, on the Friday before the broadcast, a CBS correspondent in Washington called to say he had been hearing that such a story existed. "We thought the story was leaking out," Ms. Stahl said. "That was a factor in the decision to go with it."

So, on midday that Saturday Mr. Hewitt made the decision to put the report in the air. He explained: "I said, 'Let's put it on but let's be very careful.' If you noticed, we were still very careful in how we said this is a man who says he is Behbahani, who says he was involved in these things." But a week later, The Washington Post reported that officials in the C.I.A. and F.B.I. had concluded that the man was "an imposter who lacks basic knowledge of Iran's intelligence apparatus." The newspaper also reported Iran's denial that the man was Ahmad Behbahani and that the Iranian intelligence ministry identified him as Shahram Beladi Behbahani. One main area of dispute was the man's age. The experts cited in The Post said the man would have been no more than 20 when the Pan Am jet exploded, too young, they said, for such an assignment.

Ms. Stahl said, "To be fair we did hear some discrepancy about his age." But she added that they had information the man is 38, not 32. She said Mr. Bani-Sadr had seen a photograph of the man they spoke to and had said he "looked like" Ahmad Behbahani. "60 Minutes" had hoped to have additional evidence on the story, perhaps this week. The program had been told that a section of videotape from a Iranian newscast might show the man they questioned in a security detail for the former Iranian leader Hashemi Rafsanjani. But when "60 Minutes" asked for the tape to be sent from Ankara by Federal Express, it mysteriously disappeared somewhere in Istanbul -- twice. This led Ms. Stahl to believe that someone did not want "60 Minutes" to see the tape. "I have to say the loss of that tape does add to my suspicions," she said.

Ms. Stahl also said she wondered why anyone would believe an identification offered by the Iranian intelligence ministry, and why her interview subject, if he really is no one important, had not been released from custody. "Why go to these lengths to keep him hidden?" Mr. Hewitt asked. "If he's a fake, trot him out." Instead, he said, the man is still apparently being held by the Turks, outside the reach of the press. Ms. Stahl said: "I don't know what to think. Of course, it goes without saying that if we were wrong, perhaps we should have waited. But I'm suspicious of everybody in this story."