‘Blood money’ frees CIA contractor in Pakistan

Adam Goldman and Anne Gearan
Associated Press
via Yahoo! News

In this Jan. 28, 2011, AP file photo, Pakistani security officials escort Raymond Allen Davis, center, to a local court in Lahore, Pakistan.

WASHINGTON – Pakistan abruptly freed the CIA contractor who shot and killed two men in a gunfight in Lahore after a deal was sealed Wednesday to pay $2.34 million in “blood money” to the men’s families. The agreement, nearly seven weeks after 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 carefully 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 release. That arrangement allowed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to assert in a news conference the U.S. didn’t pay compensation.

But the American government “expects to receive a bill at some point,” said the official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because the situation was so sensitive. The payments to families in Pakistan are roughly 400 times as high as the U.S. has paid to families of 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. 27 shootings. In a 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’ release 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 killings and then the detention of Davis triggered a fresh 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 especially 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, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the deal was reached as way of soothing tensions…

The entire article, with video, is at Yahoo! News

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