The White House announced Tuesday night that President Donald Trump has issued pardons to a number of his supporters for various federal crimes. Among those who were pardoned include four former government contractors who worked for the former private security firm Blackwater Worldwide, which was based in Moyock, North Carolina.
The guards were convicted of killing more than a dozen Iraqi civilians in 2007.
The incident led to an international uproar over the use of private security guards in war zones. The four men were serving lengthy prison sentences.
In August 2017, a federal appeals court overturned the first-degree murder conviction of a security contractor, Nicholas Slatten of Sparta, Tennessee, who was involved in the 2007 shooting in Baghdad’s Nisour Square at the height of the Iraq War, a deadly encounter that left 17 people dead. Slatten was a sniper working for Blackwater.
Slatten was sentenced to life in prison in August 2019 and was one of the four contractors to receive a pardon Tuesday night. A jury found Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard guilty of the deadly shooting in October 2014.
Slough, Liberty and Heard were also pardoned. According to the Associated Press, supporters of the former contractors had lobbied for the pardons, arguing that the men had been excessively punished in an investigation and prosecution they said was tainted.
In all, Trump pardoned 15 people.