US to pay families of hostage drone victims WASHINGTON: The United States said on Friday that it was making “condolence payment” to the families of an American and an Italian citizen killed in a US drone attack in Pakistan last year.
“As we acknowledged last year, a US government counterterrorism operation killed two innocent hostages held by Al Qaeda, Dr Warren Weinstein… and Giovanni Lo Porto,” said White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price.
Dr Weinstein, 74, was an American aid worker who was held by Al Qaeda since 2011. Mr Lo Porto, a 39-year-old Italian aid worker, had been an Al Qaeda hostage since 2012.
“When we announced Dr Weinstein and Mr Lo Porto’s deaths, we affirmed that the United States would provide a condolence payment to both families. We did so knowing that no dollar figure could ever bring back their loved ones,” Mr Price said.
The US and European media reported that the White House had agreed to pay $1.2 million to Mr Lo Porto’s family but did not say anything about payments to the Weinstein family.
The White House, when contacted, said it did not want to disclose the amounts paid to the two families.
“Out of respect for the privacy of these families, we have no further details to share,” Mr Price said.
Both aid workers were killed by a US drone strike in 2015 while in Al Qaeda’s custody.
For legal reasons the White House is describing the money given to the two families as “condolence payment,” not compensation.
Three months after the strike, in April last year, US President Barack Obama acknowledged and apologised for Mr Lo Porto and Dr Weinstein’s deaths, taking “full responsibility” and promising an investigation.
His remarks were unprecedented as no similar announcement had ever been made about other civilians killed in US drone strikes. Some previous victims, however, were also deemed innocent after investigation and media reports claimed that they too had received secret condolence payments from Washington.
Earlier on Friday, the Lo Porto family confirmed to the Italian news agency ANSA that it would receive $1.2m from the US government as compensation.