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Blackwater security firm ends Baghdad operations as contract expires

[JURIST] The security company known formerly as Blackwater Worldwide [corporate website; JURIST news archive] on Thursday concluded its operations in Baghdad as its contract to protect American diplomats in Iraq ended. A spokesperson from the US Embassy in Iraq [official website] said that the company, nos called XE [corporate website], will remain in southern Iraq [AP report] until the summer. Virgina-based Triple Canopy [corporate website] will take over [CNN report] operations. The US State Department [official website] announced in February that the Blackwater contract would not be renewed [JURIST report] when it expired in May. The decision not to renew the contract was made after the Iraqi government invoked its rights 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, 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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