A former Libyan agent jailed for the bombing of a passenger aircraft over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 is to be released on compassionate grounds, British media reports say.
Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, who has terminal prostate cancer, is serving a life sentence in prison for bombing Pan Am Flight 103, in which all 259 passengers on board the aircraft and 11 people on the ground were killed.
Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish justice minister, told Scottish Television on Wednesday evening that he had taken no decision on al-Megrahi's future and that he was considering several options.
But Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher, reporting from London, said he had been told that al-Megrahi could be released from prison in the Scottish town of Greenock as early as next week.
"Al-Megrahi's prognosis is not very good; we know that the Scottish justice minister visited him in his prison cell in Greenock just over 10 days ago to assess his condition," he said.
"I was told on Monday that a decision was imminent and it was likely that al-Megrahi would be freed."
Under a transfer agreement signed between Libya and Britain, al-Megrahi could be sent back to Libya to serve the remainder of his minimum 27-year jail sentence, our correspondent reported.
Al-Megrahi was in 2007 granted leave to appeal the ruling against him and his legal advisers have called for the release of sensitive memoranda relating to the original investigation into the bombing.
"His legal team wanted to see certain documents that have been passed between the intelligence services in Britain and in the US," he said.
"Britain was concerned about these being made public, so from that moment on there was always a real possibility that al-Megrahi's release was likely to happen."
Libya accepted responsibility in 2005 for the Lockerbie bombing and said it would pay about $2.7bn in compensation to the families of those killed in the attack.
That move prompted the lifting of international sanctions against Libya and led to a restoration in diplomatic ties between Tripoli and the West.
A Libyan official in Tripoli, who did not want to be identified, told the Reuters news agency that a deal for al-Megrahi's release was "in the last steps".
But he added: "We have an agreement between the two sides not to make any statement until he [al-Megrahi] comes home."
Source: Al Jazeera