FILE — Khalil Islam, center, is booked as the third suspect in the slaying of Malcolm X, in New York, March 3, 1965. Islam, previously known as Thomas 15X Johnson, one of two men convicted in the assassination of Malcolm X, is set to be cleared after more than half a century, with prosecutors now saying authorities withheld evidence in the civil rights leader’s killing, according to a news report Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. Detective John Keeley is at right. (AP Photo, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Two of the three men convicted in the assassination of Malcolm X are set to be cleared Thursday after insisting on their innocence since the 1965 killing of one of the United States’ most formidable fighters for civil rights, their lawyers and Manhattan’s top prosecutor said Wednesday.

A nearly two-year-long re-investigation found that authorities withheld evidence favorable to the defense in the trial of Muhammad Aziz, now 83, and the late Khalil Islam, said their attorneys, the Innocence Project and civil rights lawyer David Shanies.

Aziz called his conviction “the result of a process that was corrupt to its core — one that is all too familiar” even today.

“I do not need a court, prosecutors or a piece of paper to tell me I am innocent,” he said in a statement. But he said he was glad his family, friends and lawyers would get to see “the truth we have all known, officially recognized.”

He urged the criminal justice system to “take responsibility for the immeasurable harm it caused me.”

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. tweeted that his office would join the men’s attorneys in asking a judge Thursday to toss out the convictions.

“These men did not get the justice that they deserved,” Vance told The New York Times, which first reported on the developments. Innocence Project co-founder Barry Scheck called the case “one of the most blatant miscarriages of justice that I have ever seen.”

One of the civil rights era’s most controversial and compelling figures, Malcolm X rose to fame as the Nation of Islam’s chief spokesperson, proclaiming the Black Muslim organization’s message at the time: racial separatism as a road to self-actualization. He famously urged Black people to claim civil rights “by any means necessary” and referred to white people as “blue-eyed devils,” and he later denounced racism.

About a year before his death, he split from the Nation of Islam and later made a pilgrimage to Mecca, returning with a new view of the potential for racial unity. Some in the Nation of Islam saw him as a traitor.

At age 39, he was gunned down as he began a speech in Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom on Feb. 21, 1965.

Aziz, Islam and a third man, Mujahid Abdul Halim — also known as Talmadge Hayer and Thomas Hagan — were convicted of murder in March 1966 and sentenced to life in prison.

Hagan said he was one of three gunmen who shot Malcolm X, but he testified that neither Aziz nor Islam was involved. The two, then known as Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson, maintained throughout that they were innocent and offered alibis at their 1966 trial. No physical evidence linked them to the crime.

“Thomas 15 Johnson and Norman 3X Butler had nothing to do with this crime whatsoever,” Hagan said in a sworn statement in 1977.

Hagan was paroled in 2010. A message was left Wednesday at a phone number he had when paroled.

He identified two other men as gunmen, but no one else was ever arrested.

According to The New York Times, the re-investigation found the FBI had documents that pointed to other suspects, and a still-living witness supported Aziz’s alibi — that he was at home with a leg injury at the time of the shooting.

The witness, whom authorities had never interviewed before and was identified only by the initials “J.M.,” said he spoke to Aziz on the latter’s home phone the day of the killing, the newspaper said.

Also, the review found that prosecutors knew about but didn’t disclose that undercover officers were in the ballroom when the gunfire erupted, and police knew that someone had called the Daily News of New York earlier that day saying that Malcolm X would be killed.

The New York Police Department and the FBI said Wednesday that they had cooperated fully with the re-investigation, and they declined to comment further.

Aziz was released in 1985. Islam was released two years later and died in 2009. Both continued to press to clear their names.

“I did not kill Malcolm X,” Aziz said at a news conference in 1998, after the Nation of Islam tapped him to run the mosque where the slain leader had preached.

A decade later, Islam told a gathering at a Harlem bookstore: “I need to be exonerated. I had to walk 22 years in prison.”

And after their release, he and Aziz lived under the cloud of being Malcolm X’s supposed assassins.

“Exonerating these men is a righteous and well-deserved affirmation of their true character,” Shanies said in a statement. Deborah Francois, a counsel in his office, called the convictions “the product of gross official misconduct and a criminal justice system weighed against people of color.”

The Manhattan district attorney’s office publicly acknowledged it was considering reopening the case after Netflix aired the documentary series “Who Killed Malcom X?” last year. The series explored a theory by scholars that the two men were innocent and that some of the real killers had escaped.

___

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Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine's army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invasion. (AP Photo)

Ukraine-021

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Ukraine-009

Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine's army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invasion. (AP Photo)

Ukraine-014

Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine's army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invasion. (AP Photo)

Ukraine-013

A member of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, trains in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine's army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invasion. (AP Photo)

Ukraine-010

A member of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, trains in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine's army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invasion. (AP Photo)

Ukraine-015

Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine's army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invasion. (AP Photo)

Ukraine-019

Servicemen march leaving a memorial ceremony to honor the memory of civilians who died during shelling at a crowded bus stop in 2015, in Donetsk, controlled by Russia-backed separatists, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. (AP Photo)

Ukraine-005

A member of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, throws a hand grenade during training in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine's army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invas...

Ukraine-018

Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine's army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invasion. (AP Photo)

Ukraine-007

A member of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, trains in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine's army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invasion. (AP Photo)

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Ukraine-006

Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine's army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invasion. (AP Photo)

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Ukraine-011

A member of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, trains in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine's army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invasion. (AP Photo)

Ukraine-017

Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine's army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invasion. (AP Photo)

Ukraine-004

Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine's army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invasion. (AP Photo)

Ukraine-002

Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine's army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invasion. (AP Photo)

Ukraine-003

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Ukraine-012

Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine's army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invasion. (AP Photo)

1000

FILE - A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. With tens of thousands of Russian troops positioned near Ukraine, the Kremlin has kept the U.S. and its allies guessing about its next moves in the worst Russia-West security crisis since the Cold Wa...

Ukraine-008 Ukraine-021 Ukraine-009 Ukraine-014 Ukraine-013 Ukraine-010 Ukraine-015 Ukraine-019 Ukraine-005 Ukraine-018 Ukraine-007 Ukraine-022 Ukraine-016 Ukraine-023 Ukraine-006 Ukraine-020 Ukraine-011 Ukraine-017 Ukraine-004 Ukraine-002 Ukraine-003 Ukraine-012 1000

Russia announces sweeping naval drills amid Ukraine tensions

Russia-002

Russia-002

A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. Russia has concentrated an estimated 100,000 troops with tanks and other heavy weapons near Ukraine in what the West fears could be a prelude to an invasion. The Biden administration is unlikely to answer a...

Russia-010

Russia-010

Two Russian Su-30 fighter jets take off taking part in a training mission in Krasnodar Region, Russia, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. (AP Photo)

Russia-012

Russia-012

A view from the cockpit of a Russian Su-30 fighter jet as it takes part in a training mission in Krasnodar Region, Russia, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. (AP Photo)

Russia-001

Russia-001

A Russian air force pilot walks to aSu-30 fighter jet before a training mission in Krasnodar Region, Russia, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. (AP Photo)

Russia-004

Russia-004

In this photo taken from video provided by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, A Russian armored vehicle drives off a railway platform after arrival in Belarus, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. In a move that further beefs up forces near Ukraine, Russia has sent an unspecified number of troops from...

Russia-006

Russia-006

Secretary of State Antony Blinken departs Boryspil International Airport, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (AP Photo)

Russia-008

Russia-008

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows battle group deployments at the Pogonovo training area in Voronezh, Russia, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022. President Joe Biden said Wednesday, Jan. 19, he thinks Russia will invade Ukraine and warned President Vladimir Putin that his country would pa...

Russia-011

Russia-011

A view from the cockpit of a Russian Su-30 fighter jet as it takes part in a training mission in Krasnodar Region, Russia, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. (AP Photo)

Russia-003

Russia-003

Russian Su-34 bombers parked to take part in a training mission in Krasnodar Region, Russia, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. (AP Photo)

Russia-005

Russia-005

A Russian Su-30 fighter jet taxies before takeoff for a training mission in Krasnodar Region, Russia, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. (AP Photo)

Russia-007

Russia-007

A Russian Su-34 bomber takes off for a training mission in Krasnodar Region, Russia, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. (AP Photo)

Russia-009

Russia-009

Russian Su-30 fighter jets taxi before take off for a training mission in Krasnodar Region, Russia, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. (AP Photo)

Russia-002 Russia-010 Russia-012 Russia-001 Russia-004 Russia-006 Russia-008 Russia-011 Russia-003 Russia-005 Russia-007 Russia-009



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On volatile China- India border
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0003

A close-up of a heliport under construction in Rutog County.

0001

On volatile border between India and China, a high-altitude military buildup is underway

0004

Construction crews are now scattered around Ladakh as Indian authorities speed up their infrastructure race with China.

0005

An overview of a heliport under construction near Aksai Chin Lake, in a region administered by China but contested by India, on May 28.

0002

An overview of a heliport under construction in Rutog County in the Ngari Prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, on Nov. 28.

0003 0001 0004 0005 0002




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BEIJING’S ISLAND-BUILDING IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA

Runway

Runway

China is expanding the construction of its facilities on Fiery Cross Reef. Provided by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), this June 28, 2015 photo reveals Beijing has nearly completed a 3,000 meter (9,800-foot) airstrip, long enough to accommodate most Chinese military aircraft. Two h...

Expansion

Expansion

Reclamation on Fiery Cross Reef, which lies on the west side of the Spratly Islands, began in August of 2014 and its principal landmass was finished by November. Dredgers have created a land mass that spans the entire existing reef and is approximately 3,000 meters long and 200-300 meters wide.

Facilities

Facilities

This picture taken last November shows construction work being carried out on Fiery Cross Reef. The reef reportedly already houses a helicopter landing pad, a 300-meter-long wharf, a harbor large enough to dock military tankers, barracks and artillery emplacements.

South Johnson Reef

South Johnson Reef

This reef was one of the first facilities to finish principal land reclamation. This recent picture shows that a radar tower is nearing completion at the north end of the land mass. According to AMTI, a new large multi-level military facility has been built in the center of the island. Up to six sur...

A naval base?

A naval base?

Beginning in early 2015, Mischief Reef - also located in the Spratlys - has undergone extensive reclamation activity. Experts say that the recent widening of the southern entrance to the reef, coupled with sightings of Chinese navy vessels, may suggest a future role for the reclaimed reef as a naval...

From reef to island

From reef to island

Significant construction on Gaven Reef began in 2014, with a total of 114,000 square meters of land already created. Satellite pictures show just how fast construction has progressed on the reef. A new artificial island was created between March (left) and August (right) 2014.

Troop garrison

Troop garrison

According to AMTI, China has had a troop garrison on Gaven Reef since 2003, which has included a large supply platform where ships can dock. Experts say a new main square building in the reef appears to be an anti-aircraft tower.

A standardized process

A standardized process

As seen in this image, the basic process of expanding these features involves dredging sand from the seafloor and dumping it onto the reefs. The structure is raised above the high water line, hiding the status of the bank or reef beneath. The sand is then smoothed out and workers surround the island...

'Historic rights'

'Historic rights'

China claims most of the potentially energy-rich waterway, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The US Pacific Fleet commander recently said China was "creating a great wall of sand" in the South China Sea, causing serious concerns about its territorial intentions. Beijin...

Territorial disputes

Territorial disputes

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims, which have led to territorial disputes in the area. Last summer, China's deployment of a massive oil rig in waters also claimed by Hanoi escalated tensions in the region, sparking a standoff at sea and violent anti-C...

US concerns

US concerns

Washington is concerned China's efforts carry a military dimension that could undermine the US' naval and economic power in the Pacific, and has weighed sending warships and surveillance aircraft within 12 nautical miles of the new artificial islands. Washington has repeatedly called on Beijing and ...

Ecological impact

Ecological impact

The Philippines filed a formal plea at the UN last year, challenging Beijing's territorial claims. Manila said China's reclamation activities are causing "irreversible and widespread damage to the biodiversity and ecological balance of the South China Sea." It also claimed that the destruction of co...

Runway Expansion Facilities South Johnson Reef A naval base? From reef to island Troop garrison A standardized process 'Historic rights' Territorial disputes US concerns Ecological impact