Afghanistan to free 72 detainees
KABUL, Afghanistan — The Afghan government said on Thursday it will release 72 high-profile detainees, a decision that defies pleas by U.S. officials and deals a blow to U.S.-Afghan relations just as the two countries attempt to complete a long-term security agreement.
U.S. officials say the prisoners pose a threat to both Afghan security and American service members based here, claiming their exoneration proves not only the dysfunction of the Afghan judiciary, but also the government's inability to cooperate on even the gravest matters.
President Hamid Karzai declared that the evidence against the 72 men — which had been collected by both the Afghan intelligence service and the U.S. military — was insufficient to warrant formal trials, according to a statement from the presidential palace.
The release, which is expected within days, was ordered after a “thorough and serious review of the prisoners,” the statement said.
In an attempt to keep the detainees behind bars, U.S. officials had handed over reams of evidence against them — enough, they said they assumed, to at least justify formal trials.
But presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said Karzai and a panel of senior officials had decided that was not the case. “The Americans didn't have any proof against them,” Faizi said.
Bilateral relations, tense before the prisoner release, are expected to worsen, casting doubt on a pact that would permit U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond this year.
During a visit to Kabul last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the release “would have an unbelievably negative impact” on U.S.-Afghan relations and would prompt “a backlash in the U.S. Congress.”
U.S. military officials said at the time that the decision would fly in the face of a 12-year effort to bolster the Afghan legal system. The prisoners were transferred to Afghan custody last year, a move intended to show confidence in the Afghan judiciary.
“Release of these individuals by the Afghan Review Board undermines Afghan rule of law, because the Afghan people do not get their day in court,” said Col. David Lapan, a spokesman for the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Diplomatic push swells against ISIS
- More Iraq deployments may be needed as terrorist fight intensifies, Army chief says
- Scots reject independence from United Kingdom in historic vote
- It’s not a small world after all: Global population estimated to soar
- 21 massacred in Mexico, witnesses say
- Blasts kill dozens in Baghdad area
- Ukraine’s pleas for lethal aid not heard