Contractors: Urged to lie in Afghan death

May 27, 2000

WASHINGTON, May 27 (UPI) -- Two U.S. security contractors involved in the shooting of an Afghan civilian say they were pressured by their employer to say they were drunk at the time.

Steven McClain and Justin Cannon, employees of the U.S. security company Paravant, told CNN they were encouraged by the company to tell investigators they were intoxicated during the May 5 shooting that left an Afghan civilian dead and two wounded. The reason for doing so, they said, was to protect Paravant's contract with the U.S. military.

"There was no question as to, 'Were you drinking?' It was, 'I know you were drinking, I know this happened,' and then pretty much trying to force us into making a statement on that," McClain told the U.S. broadcaster.

Paravant, which is affiliated with the successor company of security contractor Blackwater Worldwide, denied the allegations. A spokeswoman told CNN, "That did not happen. Their direction from the company was to cooperate with the investigation, and lying is not cooperating."

U.S. military officials are investigating the Kabul shooting and reportedly say they will consider whether to refer any charges to the Justice Department.

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