US to pay $4m to family of Italian killed in CIA strike

Protesters against drone strikes walk along the highway with a model of a drone as they gather outside CIA headquarters in Langley Virginia on June 29, 2013.
Protesters against drone strikes walk along the highway with a model of a drone as they gather outside CIA headquarters in Langley Virginia on June 29, 2013.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • The Obama administration has agreed to pay nearly US$3 million (S$4 million) to the family of an Italian aid worker who was killed in a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) drone strike in Pakistan last year, but it has yet to reach a settlement over an American who was also killed in the attack, US officials said.

The agreement with the family of Mr Giovanni Lo Porto marks the culmination of nearly 18 months of negotiations since President Barack Obama publicly apologised for the deaths of the two aid workers - who were being held hostage by Al-Qaeda - and the White House pledged that their families would be compensated.

But the administration remains at an impasse with relatives of Mr Warren Weinstein, a Rockville, Maryland resident abducted by Al-Qaeda in 2011 while working in Lahore, Pakistan, on a US government development contract. Mr Weinstein was 73 when he was killed.

His widow said in a statement that she was heartened to hear that the Lo Porto family had reached a settlement with the United States government.

"We hope that this brings them some measure of closure," said Mrs Elaine Weinstein. "As they and we know all too well, no settlement will ever replace the hurt we feel in our hearts for the unnecessary loss of our loved ones."

The Weinstein family is continuing to work with the government to "come to closure on outstanding issues", according to the statement.

The White House declined to confirm details of the payment to the Lo Porto family or discuss the ongoing talks with the Weinstein family.

"When we announced Mr Lo Porto's death in a US government counterterrorism operation last year, we affirmed that the US would provide a condolence payment to his family," said Mr Ned Price, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

"We did so knowing that no dollar figure could ever bring back their loved ones."

Both Mr Weinstein and Mr Lo Porto died in a January 2015 drone attack that raised troubling questions about a CIA drone programme the administration has frequently touted as peerless in its accuracy and governed by rules that require "near certainty" no civilians will be killed.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 18, 2016, with the headline 'US to pay $4m to family of Italian killed in CIA strike'. Print Edition | Subscribe