News / Asia

Afghan Officials Say No Decision Yet on Bagram Detainees

An Afghan detainee is seen through iron mesh inside the Parwan detention facility near Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan. March 23, 2011 (AP file photograph)
An Afghan detainee is seen through iron mesh inside the Parwan detention facility near Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan. March 23, 2011 (AP file photograph)
Ibrahim Nasar
— A senior official in Afghanistan says Kabul is reviewing evidence against 88 detainees in custody at the Bagram detention center and whose fate has become a source of tension between the United States and Afghanistan.
 
The Obama administration wants the prisoners to remain detained there under Afghan authority, because it considers many of them dangerous.  However the Afghan commission tasked to review their cases has decided to release them if not enough evidence is offered to hold them.
 
Local and international media recently reported they will be set free soon.
 
But in an interview with VOA TV Ashna, a member of the commission, Abdul Shukoor Dadras said the detainee’s future has yet to be settled.

According to Dadras, the commission has reviewed the files provided by U.S. authorities on the detainees, and is now waiting for Afghan authorities to provide evidence that will determine whether they remain in custody or are released.  
 
U.S. officials say some of the prisoners were involved in attacks on U.S. and Afghan forces and it says their release would be a threat to Afghan and U.S. security. 
 
Warnings from Congress
 
Meanwhile three senior members of the U.S. congress are warning that any release of the detainees could damage U.S. – Afghan ties. 
 
At a press conference following a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, one of the three, Senator Lindsey Graham said any release would also violate an agreement signed between the two countries on the transfer of detainees.  
 
“There is much evidence to suggest a wrongdoing," Graham said. "Over 60 coalition forces have been killed as a result of actions by these 88 and 57 Afghans have been killed by the actions of these 88.  If this release goes forward, it would be undercutting the Afghan rule of law. It would be a major step backward and it would have an unbelievably negative impact on the future relationship between the American people and the Afghan government."
 
Karzai has ordered his country’s secret services to provide any evidence it has on the detainees.
 
But Dadras told VOA that the commission is still waiting for the National Directorate of Security’s response and any evidence it might have on them. 
 
Dadras rejected reports that Karzai had personally asked for the release of the detainees, saying the president had only stressed that  “inmates with no crimes must not stay in detention, and those with criminal records must not get out.”

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