Donald Trump is reportedly considering a pardon for Nicholas A. Slatten, a mercenary who worked for private military contractor Blackwater and was convicted of murder for gunning down unarmed Iraqis in Nisour Square in Baghdad in 2007, The Daily Beast reports.
According to a source close to the president and a senior administration official, Trump has been speaking with close advisers about the possibility of clemency for Slatten.
“He’s said he wants to do more,” the administration official said. “There are more warriors out there who he believes have been treated unfairly and whose [cases] need another look.”
Slatten was reportedly a U.S. Army sniper before working for Blackwater, which was founded by Erik Prince, an ally of Trump. The Nisour Square incident led to the death of 10 men, two women, and two pre-teen boys — all unarmed commuters. The ordeal has reportedly strained Iraqi trust in the U.S. justice system, and a pardon would come as angry Iraqis stormed the U.S. embassy in Baghdad in response to U.S. military presence.
According to Slatten’s sister, Jessica, he is innocent of the charges against him.
“Nick is innocent, and recent revelations of government misconduct prove that prosecutors lied to the court, lied to Nick’s jury, and have been lying to the American public for over a decade to obtain Nick’s wrongful conviction.”
“Without a pardon, Nick may die in prison for a war-zone shooting he did not commit,” she added.
Tim Parlatore, an attorney for Edward Gallagher, who Trump pardoned for war crimes, says Slatten’s decision was a case where he and other mercenaries had to “make a tough decision in combat,” adding that he believes they should receive the “benefit of the doubt.”
Former Blackwater security guard Nicholas Slatten was found guilty of first-degree murder for killing Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia'y, an unarmed Iraqi civilian, at Nisur Square in 2007. pic.twitter.com/rITVkrtIqo— AJ+ (@ajplus) December 19, 2018
Blackwater founder Erik Prince recently appeared on PragerU’s The Candace Owens Show and claimed that Blackwater received a bad reputation due to attacks from the “anti-war left.” He said that Blackwater was representative of “everything they loved to hate,” appearing to suggest his heterosexuality, gender, and decisions to have children and own guns were part of the reason for the backlash against the controversial private military contractor.
Prince was also reportedly present at the Trump Tower meeting during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, which included other figures such as Donald Trump Jr. and representatives of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The former Navy SEAL received criticism from some for the attendance, as he did not mention it when he testified under oath before a congressional committee in 2017.