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Afghanistan Releases 65 Prisoners from Parwan Facility

Afghanistan has released 65 accused militants from a former U.S. detention facility near Bagram Air Base, despite warnings from the United States.

Afghan officials said Thursday that the prisoners were freed from the Parwan Detention Facility earlier in the day. Among those scheduled to be released was Mohammad Wali, whom the United States says is a Taliban explosives expert who targeted U.S. and Afghan forces.

The United States has protested the release of those prisoners since President Hamid Karzai announced several weeks ago that the prisoners' cases had been reviewed by the government and they had been cleared for release.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the release was a "major step backwards" for the rule of law in Afghanistan, and poses serious security concerns.

Mr. Karzai says conditions at the facility were turning the men against their own country and fostering loyalty to the Taliban.

In comments to reporters during a visit to Ankara (,Turkey) Thursday, Mr. Karzai defended the release saying the action "is of no concern to the U.S."

Mr. Karzai says he hopes the U.S. will "stop harassing" Afghanistan's procedures and judicial authority and begin to respect the country's sovereignty.

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