U.S. 'Deeply Regrets' Decision to Free Lockerbie Bomber

Scotland says Megrahi freed because he has cancer; 1988 bombing killed 270 people, mainly Americans.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slammed the decision by Scotland to release the Libyan man convicted of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 that killed 270 people.

In a statement released by the State Department on Thursday, Clinton, who is on vacation, said 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," the statement read.

Also Thursday, 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.

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.

In a statement released Thursday on his behalf, al-Megrahi addressed the bomb victims' relatives, stating, "They continue to have my sincere sympathy for the unimaginable loss that they have suffered." Also in the statement, al-Megrahi maintains his innocence.

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