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Federal charges against ex-Blackwater employees dropped

Federal prosecutors have dismissed felony charges against several former employees of the private security company once known as Blackwater over weapons given to the king of Jordan in 2005. Instead, two of the former company executives will plead guilty to misdemeanor weapons charges. The felony charges apparently became difficult to prosecute after the defendants presented evidence that they were acting on behalf of the CIA.

Blackwater, which later changed its name to Xe and is currently known as Academi, provides security services to government entities in war zones. In 2005, King Abdullah II of Jordan visited the company's headquarters. During the visit, Blackwater presented the king with five guns, including a shotgun, a rifle and three handguns. Prosecutors later claimed that the gifts were an attempt to win a contract with the Jordanian government. They also accused Blackwater of falsifying records on the weapons to make it appear that they had been sold.

But the defendants, who included the former president of the company, produced affidavits from two former CIA officials that said the agency knew about the gift. Exactly how involved the government was in the transfer is not clear as many documents in the case are sealed for national security reasons.

As part of a plea bargain, the former president and a former vice president pleaded guilty to misdemeanor record keeping charges. They will serve four months' house arrest and pay $5,000 in fines apiece.

Source: Huffington Post, "Ex-Blackwater Employees' Felony Charges Dropped, Said CIA Told Them To Provide King With Rifles," Michael Biespecker, Feb. 22, 2013

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