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State Department not renewing Blackwater Iraq contract

[JURIST] An official from the US State Department [official website] said Friday that the Blackwater Worldwide [corporate website; JURIST news archive] contract to protect American diplomats in Iraq will not be renewed when it expires in May. The State Department has yet to make an official statement [press briefing] but is expected to do so soon. The decision not to renew the contract was made after the Iraqi government invoked its rights last week under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) [full text; CFR materials] by refusing to renew [JURIST report] Blackwater's operating license.

The decision by the Iraqi government was motivated in part by the alleged killing of 17 civilians by Blackwater guards [JURIST report] in September 2007. In January 2009, five Blackwater guards pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to manslaughter, attempted manslaughter, and weapons charges. A sixth guard pleaded guilty [text, PDF] to charges of voluntary manslaughter and attempt to commit manslaughter for his role in the same incident. In November, a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigation into the incident concluded that the shootings were unjustified [JURIST report].

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