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US Condemns Release of Afghan Detainees

FILE - An Afghan prisoner waits in line for his release from Parwan Detention Facility after the U.S. military gave control of its last detention facility to Afghan authorities in Bagram, outside Kabul, Afghanistan, March 2013.
FILE - An Afghan prisoner waits in line for his release from Parwan Detention Facility after the U.S. military gave control of its last detention facility to Afghan authorities in Bagram, outside Kabul, Afghanistan, March 2013.
VOA News
U.S. military headquarters in Afghanistan has condemned a decision to release 37 detainees it calls "legitimate threats to security."

A statement Monday from United States Forces-Afghanistan calls the release a "major step backward" for developing rule of law in Afghanistan.

The detainees are part of a group of 88 being held at a prison on the U.S.-run Bagram air field.  

Talking to VOA's Afghan Service, Abdul Shakoor Daadras, a member of the Afghan panel that reviews the cases of detainees at Bagram, said these prisoners have been detained for too long without legal recourse.

"I am not a judge nor a prosecutor," said Daadras. "But I can say that the cases of these prisoners have not reached the level where a judge could hear them. We are assigned to assess them before they get to that level."

President Hamid Karzai ordered a review of their cases, and earlier this month his office said all but 16 would be released because there was not enough evidence to put the majority on trial. On Saturday, he called the Bagram facility a "Taliban-producing factory" where Afghans are tortured into hating their country.

The U.S. military statement says there is strong evidence for prosecution or further investigation of the 37 detainees being released.  

It says 17 of them are linked to improvised explosive attacks, three were involved in wounding or killing Afghan soldiers, and four are connected to attacks against coalition troops.

U.S. Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said, "These are individuals with blood on their hands, both U.S., coalition and Afghan blood on their hands."  

The commander of international troops in Afghanistan, General Joseph Dunford, said earlier this month that the detainee release would raise concerns for the safety of his troops and the Afghan people.

A group of U.S. senators who visited Afghanistan this month said releasing the detainees without trial would have a devastating impact on relations between the two countries.

Those ties are already strained by negotiations over a security pact that would allow some U.S. forces to remain in Afghanistan past the planned withdrawal of international forces by the end of this year.

An assembly of Afghan elders and politicians endorsed the agreement late last year, but Karzai has refused to sign it, saying he wants the U.S. to end raids against Afghan homes and help begin peace talks with the Taliban.

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