‘Blood money’ used to free CIA contractor in Pakistan

March 18, 2011 7:51 pm0 commentsViews: 12

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Pakistan abruptly freed the CIA contractor who shot and killed two men in a very gunfight in Lahore once a deal was sealed Wednesday to pay $2.34 million in “blood money” to the men’s families. The agreement, nearly seven weeks once the shootings, ended a tense showdown with a vital U.S. ally that had threatened to disrupt the war on terrorism.

In what appeared to be a fastidiously choreographed conclusion to the diplomatic crisis, a U.S. official said Pakistan had paid the families whose pardoning of Raymond Davis set the stage for his unharness. That arrangement allowed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to claim in a very news conference the U.S. didn’t pay compensation.

But the american government “expects to receive a bill at some purpose,” said the official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity as a result of true was therefore sensitive. The payments to families in Pakistan are roughly 400 times as high because the U.S. has paid to families of the many civilians wrongfully killed by U.S. soldiers in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Under negotiations to free Davis, the U.S. Embassy in Lahore said the Justice Department had opened an investigation into the Jan. twenty seven shootings. in a very statement, the embassy thanked the families for their generosity in pardoning Davis but did not mention any money changing hands.

The deal to secure Davis’ unharness had been in the works for some time, with the most intense negotiations over the past three weeks, another U.S. official told The Associated Press.

The arrangement deliberately bypassed the question of whether or not Davis was immune from prosecution as a result of diplomatic standing, the official said. That had been a central legal issue in the case, but by negotiating Davis’ unharness below Islamic sharia law the difficulty could be resolved outside the jurisdiction of the police and court system that arrested and held him on suspicion of murder.

Davis, 36, left the country immediately for Kabul in neighboring Afghanistan, where he was expected to be debriefed extensively regarding his time in custody, Pakistani and american officials said.

In the U.S., an elated Rebecca Davis learned of her husband’s unharness in a very phone call at 6:30 a.m. She never blinked, she said, invariably believing her husband would be let out.

“I knew. I just didn’t savvy long,” she said, speaking outside her home close to Denver. “I just knew in my gut that he’d be home.”

The killings and then the detention of Davis triggered a recent wave of anti-American sentiment in Pakistan and tested the sometimes shaky alliance that is seen as key to defeating al-Qaida and ending the war in Afghanistan.

Antagonism has been particularly sharp between the CIA and Pakistan’s powerful Inter Services Intelligence, its spy service, which says it did not know Davis was operating in the country. One ISI official, additionally speaking on condition of anonymity, said the deal was reached as means of soothing tensions.

After nightfall Wednesday, tiny groups of protesters took to the streets in major cities, briefly clashing with police outside the U.S. consulate in Lahore, where officers fired tear gas at men burning tires and hurling rocks. there have been imply larger protests Friday once noon prayers.

Fearing a backlash, U.S. officials planned to shut consulates in Pakistan on Thursday.

In the U.S., the deal for the discharge drew some criticism. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., complained that Pakistan already receives billions of dollars in U.S. aid. throughout a congressional hearing, he said the U.S. ought to scrutinize whether or not foreign aid recipients “are treating us like suckers.”

Davis said he had acted in self-defense when he killed the two men on the street in the jap city of Lahore. The U.S. government initially described him as either a U.S. consular or embassy official, but officials later acknowledged he was operating for the CIA, confirming suspicions that had aired in the Pakistani media. He was operating as a security contractor in Lahore, protecting different CIA employees as they gathered intelligence, officials say.

The State Department had insisted Davis was covered by diplomatic immunity. but Pakistan’s weak government, facing intense pressure from Islamist parties, sections of the media and therefore the general public, did not say whether or not it agreed this was the case.

Given the high stakes for both nations, few imagined either facet would enable it to derail the link. the most question was how long it would take to reach a deal.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said Davis was really charged with murder Wednesday in a very court that was convened in a very jail in Lahore, but was immediately pardoned by the families of the victims once the payment.

Reporters were not allowed to witness the proceedings.

“This all happened in court and everything was according to law,” he said. “The court has acquitted Raymond Davis. currently he can go anywhere.”

Raja Muhammad Irshad, a lawyer for the families, said 19 male and feminine relatives appeared in court to accept the $2.34 million. He said every told the court “they were ready to accept the blood money deal while not pressure and would haven’t any objection if the court acquitted Raymond Davis.” The follow, which comes from Islamic law, is common and legal in Pakistan, though criticized by human rights groups.

Separately, one Pakistani official said the sum was just under twice that total, whereas different news organizations cited anonymous sources to report the quantity was between $700,000 and $1.4 million.

Clinton, in Cairo, denied the U.S. had created any payments, but she didn’t dispute that the men’s families were compensated. Representatives of the families had previously said they would refuse any money.

Asad Mansoor Butt, who had earlier represented the families, accused Pakistan’s government of pressuring his former clients; he gave no details.

CIA Director Leon Panetta and ISI chief Gen. Shuja Pasha talked in mid-February in a shot to smooth out the friction between the two spy agencies, according to Pakistan and U.S. officials Pasha demanded the U.S. establish “all the Ray Davises operating in Pakistan, behind our backs,” the Pakistani official said.

The same official said Panetta agreed “in principle” to declare such employees but wouldn’t ensure whether or not the agency had done therefore. A second official in Pakistan said as a results of that conversation the ISI — which along side the military could be a major power center in the country — then backed a shot to assist negotiate payments to the families.

A U.S. official denied there had been any quid professional quo between the two spy agencies in Pakistan over CIA employees, and said the agency had continued to figure with the ISI throughout the crisis. Since Davis was arrested, the CIA has launched drone strikes in the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan.

CIA spokesman George very little said the two agencies have had a powerful relationship.

“When problems arise, it is our standing follow to figure through them,” he said. “That’s the sign of a healthy partnership, one that is vital to both countries, particularly as we have a tendency to face a typical set of terrorist enemies.”

Former agency officers had watched the case closely.

“I think that the everybody was pinned into a corner, and this can be the simplest way of operating their answer,” said Robert Grenier, a former CIA station chief in Islamabad and director of the agency’s Counter terrorism Center. “Both sides had a compelling interest find how to get beyond this.”

Grenier said the quantity paid didn’t raise any concern in his mind.

“I would be less involved regarding this setting a precedent,” he said, “because the small print of this case are therefore extraordinary.”

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