ISLAMABAD – A murder case against an American CIA contractor that had threatened already troubled U.S.-Pakistani relations came to an abrupt end Wednesday after more than $1 million in “blood money” was paid to the families of the two men he was accused of killing, according to the contractor’s lawyer.
A Pakistani court ordered Raymond Davis’ acquittal after the families agreed to forgive him. Davis, who had been in custody since January, immediately left Pakistan. The families of the dead men were secretly relocated inside Pakistan as part of the agreement, Pakistani officials said.
Under the court-ordered release, Davis neither admitted his guilt nor conceded that he didn’t enjoy diplomatic immunity, a major point of contention between the U.S. and Pakistan, according to his lawyer and a senior Pakistani official.
The U.S., however, agreed as part of the settlement to notify Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency of all CIA personnel in the country. The ISI apparently was unaware that Davis, officially an administrative officer at the U.S. consulate in Lahore, actually worked for the CIA when he killed the two men, whom he said were trying to rob him.
Davis, a former U.S. Special Forces soldier, was hired by the CIA to provide security for CIA officers involved in a top-secret operation in Lahore against Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani Islamic extremist organization that was behind the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai.
It was unclear where the money for the payment to the families came from. U.S. officials insisted that Washington didn’t pay, which suggested that the Pakistani government had, initially anyway, picked up the tab.
There were differing reports about the amount of the payment. Citing Davis’ attorney, McClatchy put it at $1.4 million. But, according to the Associated Press, a lawyer for the families said they agreed to accept $2.34 million.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters in Cairo that “the United States did not pay any compensation.” But an official with knowledge of the case said the U.S. would likely contribute at least something to the payment. “It stands to reason that the United States will man up and will contribute to the settlement,” said the official.
The case had led to a tense standoff between Islamabad and Washington, important allies in the fight against Islamic extremism. Washington insisted that Davis was entitled to diplomatic immunity and couldn’t be charged. Pakistan said he wasn’t a diplomat.
The dispute deepened after it was learned that Davis was working for the CIA. The issue inflamed anti-American public opinion in Pakistan, and there were small demonstrations Wednesday in several Pakistani cities over the outcome.
How the CIA will work with the new agreement was unclear. The CIA’s operations in Pakistan are closely guarded, and it’s hardly a secret that the CIA and ISI, which has ties to the Afghan Taliban, are deeply suspicious of one another.
The deal came after complex talks that involved the CIA, ISI, the top military commands of the two countries, as well as the State Department, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., and Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.