Two men wrongfully jailed for killing iconic civil rights activist Malcolm X will receive $ 36 million (£ 31 million) in compensation.

Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam were exonerated last year after an investigation found prosecutors, the FBI and New York police had withheld evidence that would likely acquit them at trial.

The couple were released in the 1980s after spending around 20 years in prison for the 1965 assassination.

They were jailed despite the third man convicted of the shooting, Mujahid Halim, testifying that he was innocent.

“Muhammad Aziz, Khalil Islam and their families deserve this for their suffering,” said attorney David Shanies.

“They suffered a life under the cloud of being wrongly accused of killing a civil rights leader.”

Mr. Islam died at the age of 74 in 2009, so his family will receive compensation. Mr. Aziz is now 84 years old and married with six children.

New York City authorities will pay $ 26 million and the other $ 10 million will come from the state.

Malcolm X rose to prominence in the Nation of Islam, a group that advocated black separatism.

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Malcolm X was killed in Manhattan in February 1965. Pic: AP

He quarreled with his leader Elijah Muhammad and left the group in 1964, angering some of his followers and leading to death threats. The following February, three men shot him dead during an event at Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom.

Denzel Washington was nominated for an Oscar for playing Malcolm X in an acclaimed 1992 film.

The man who admitted to the murder, Mujahid Halim, was paroled in 2010.

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