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Official: U.S. government to pick up payment to Pakistani families

By the CNN Wire Staff
In Islamabad, Pakistan, on Thursday, demonstrators protest the Wednesday release of CIA contractor Raymond Davis.
In Islamabad, Pakistan, on Thursday, demonstrators protest the Wednesday release of CIA contractor Raymond Davis.
  • Families of two Pakistani men killed by a CIA contractor receive a seven-figure sum
  • Murder charges are dropped against the American, who is freed from a Pakistan jail
  • A U.S. official says the government "fully expects" to get the bill and will pay it

(CNN) -- Though the Obama administration said it wouldn't directly pay a seven-figure settlement to Pakistani families of two men killed by a CIA contractor, the U.S. government "fully expects to get the bill" at some point and would pay it, a U.S. official told CNN on Thursday.

The assertion by the official, who spoke on the condition on anonymity, comes a day after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "The United States does not pay any compensation."

Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor who was charged with the murder of two men in Pakistan, was released from jail Wednesday after a payment was given to the men's families.

Davis described the two men as attackers and said he shot them in self-defense. Lahore Police Chief Aslam Tareen, however, said the case was "clear-cut murder."

A lawyer closely connected to the case said this week that the families' compensation was $1.4 million, but Punjab province law minister Rana Sanaullah said that $2.34 million was paid to the legal heirs by the U.S. government.

The compensation in exchange for a suspect's release is allowed under "diyat," a part of Islamic law that is enshrined in Pakistan's penal code and which allows victims to pardon a murderer with or without being paid "blood money," said the former chief justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court, Saeed U Zaman Saddiqi.

The U.S. official said the Pakistanis carried out all of the discussions with the families, but the U.S. government was aware of the Pakistani efforts.

The agreement was reached between the families and the Pakistani officials, the official said.

The official was unaware of any Saudi involvement in the case, whether it be pressure on the Pakistani government to resolve the matter, making the payments to the families or both, but the official would not rule it out as a possibility.

Davis had been held in jail on murder charges since January, but the families of the two men he killed forgave him, Cameron Munter, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, said Wednesday.

Davis appeared Wednesday in a Lahore, Pakistan, court after the payment was made and was acquitted of the murder charges, in accordance with diyat, said the lawyer closely connected to the case.

On a second charge, illegal possession of a firearm, Davis was fined $250 and sentenced to time served, the lawyer noted.

According to Davis, the shooting occurred January 27 after two men attacked him as he drove through a busy Lahore neighborhood, the U.S. Embassy has said.

Many Pakistanis wanted Davis to be tried, and hard-line Pakistani clerics demanded that their government not release Davis to the U.S. government.

The United States had been seeking the release of Davis from a Lahore jail on the grounds that he has diplomatic immunity.

U.S. officials originally said Davis was a diplomat and later revealed that he is a CIA contractor.

In Highland Park, Colorado, where Davis lives, his wife, Rebecca, defended him in an interview outside their home. She expected her husband to return home in the next week or so.

"I knew it was self-defense. He's not a Rambo, as the L.A. Times said," Davis' wife said. "He's not an agent. He's not Jason Bourne. He's not any of these kind of crazy things that have been portrayed of him."

CNN's Pam Benson and Michael Martinez contributed to this report.