Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Afghanistan releases 65 prisoners despite strong U.S. objections --- (CNN) -- Afghan authorities released 65 prisoners Thursday despite strong objections from the United States, which calls them "dangerous insurgents" who pose a threat to security forces and civilians. -- The U.S. military in Afghanistan said some of the men are "directly linked" to attacks that killed or wounded 32 American or coalition service members and 23 Afghan security personnel or civilians. -- The U.S. Embassy in Kabul called the move "deeply regrettable," saying the Afghan government "bears responsibility for the results of its decision." -- The controversial prisoner release comes amid broader tensions between Washington and Kabul over Afghan President Hamid Karzai's current unwillingness to sign a bilateral security agreement to keep some U.S. and other coalition troops in Afghanistan after this year. -- U.S. authorities have repeatedly aired in public their displeasure over the likely release of the prisoners. -- "We have made clear our judgment that these individuals should be prosecuted under Afghan law. We requested that the cases be carefully reviewed," the U.S. military said ahead of the release. "But the evidence against them was never seriously considered, including by the attorney general, given the short time since the decision was made to transfer these cases to the Afghan legal system." -- Releasing them, the military said, violates agreements between the United States and Afghanistan and is "a major step backward for the rule of law in Afghanistan." -- For its part, Afghanistan says it doesn't have enough evidence to keep the 65 prisoners behind bars. -- "We took this decision according to our law," said Mohammad Ishaq Aloko, the Afghan attorney general. --- Abdul Shukor Dadras, head of the Afghan Review Board, said the attorney general ordered the prisoners' release from the Parwan Detention Center -- formerly known as Bagram prison -- after a careful review of 88 cases. - More, Jethro Mullen, CNN


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