A former Blackwater contractor pardoned by Trump said he 'acted correctly' and feels at 'peace' for his role in death of 14 Iraqi civilians

  • Evan Liberty, one of the former Blackwater contractors recently pardoned by President Donald Trump, expressed little remorse in his first interview since he was released from prison. 
  • In an interview with the Associated Press, Liberty said he was "confident in how I acted and I can basically feel peace with that."
  • Liberty was sentenced to 30 years in prison after he was convicted of manslaughter in 2014 for his role in the killing of Iraqi men, women, and children during a 2007 shootout in Baghdad. 
  • Of 17 people who died in the September 16, 2007, event known as the Nisour Square massacre, the Federal Bureau of Investigation found 14 killings were unjustified. 
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Evan Liberty, one of the former Blackwater contractors pardoned in December by President Donald Trump, in an interview with the Associated Press showed little remorse and maintained he acted appropriately in the 2007 incident that led to his conviction.

Liberty was convicted of manslaughter by a jury in 2014 and sentenced to 30 years behind bars, though a judge last year cut his sentence in half. Liberty told the Associated Press in his first interview since he was pardoned that he maintained he had done nothing incorrectly during the September 16, 2007, event known as the Nisour Square massacre. 

"I feel like I acted correctly," he told the outlet. "I regret any innocent loss of life, but I'm just confident in how I acted and I can basically feel peace with that."

Trump in December pardoned Liberty, Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, and Dustin Heard, military veterans all previously employed by the security firm then known as Blackwater Worldwide, according to a previous Business Insider report. The security firm, which now exists under a different name, was contracted by the US to provide protection for diplomats in Iraq.

"I didn't shoot at anybody that wasn't shooting at me," Liberty told the AP, adding that he and the others convinced would "never take an innocent life"

The men involved in the Nisour Square massacre were part of an armored convoy that opened fire in a crowded area of Baghdad on September 16, 2007, using machine guns, sniper fire, and grenade launchers against civilians.

More than a dozen Iraqi civilians, including women and children, were killed during the 2007 shootout. Slatten was convicted of the most serious charge — first-degree murder — and sentenced to life in prison, though he was also pardoned by the president last month. 

As Business Insider previously reported, two children were killed, the youngest being a 9-year-old boy named Ali Mohammed Hafedh Abdul Razzaq. In total, 17 people were killed during the shootout, and FBI investigators later determined that 14 of the deaths were unjustified.

The pardons drew ire from many, despite the White House's implication that there was widespread support for their pardons. 

Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, said, "pardoning monstrous criminals will leave a dark mark on the history of presidential pardons." Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, also a Democrat and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, "pardoning these murderers is a disgrace."

Some activist organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, also spoke out against Trump's pardons.

Liberty said he hadn't spoken to the president and wasn't sure how his pardon came to be. The company formerly known as Blackwater was founded by Erik Prince, an ally of the president and the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

"I feel like it's my duty to go out and do something positive and live a good life because they gave me a second chance, so that's basically my goal," Liberty, who spent six years in prison, told the Associated Press. 

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