Afghanistan to release detainees against US wishes

A spokesperson for Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Jan. 9 said that the administration will be releasing 72 prisoners the United States considers dangerous militants from Bagram prison, stating that there was not enough evidence to continue to hold them. The government said that there was no evidence against 45 of the detainees and that there was insufficient evidence against the other 27 to bring them to trial. Karzai's spokesperson stated that the continued detention of the prisoners was an illegal violation of Afghan sovereignty, and that the government could not allow Afghan citizens to be held for months and years at a time without being subject to trial. A US State Department spokeswoman reportedly responded to the decision by stating that the 72 prisoners are dangerous criminals and that there is strong evidence linking them to terrorist activities and the killings of Afghan citizens and US troops.

Coming in the wake of Karzai's refusal to sign an Afghan-US security deal, this move demonstrates the increasing tension between the two administrations and it is yet unclear what impact the move will have on any security agreement between them. US officials have reportedly threatened to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan if a deal is not reached, though Karzai has responded to such statements by calling them "empty threats."

From Jurist, Jan. 10. Used with permission.