Afghan Government Frees Taliban Fighters for Cash

WikiLeaks cable reveals US fury over prisoner release
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 1, 2010 1:22 AM CST
Afghans wait to be released from a prison in Herat, west of Kabu.   (AP Photo/ Reza Shirmohammadi)
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(Newser) – Taliban commanders no longer fear capture because Afghan security forces are freeing fighters in return for cash or political favors. The practice has become so widespread that the Taliban have a committee devoted to securing the release of prisoners, reports Reuters, citing sources familiar with a range of cases. One Taliban commander in Kandahar was a free man just days after Canadian troops handed him over to their Afghan counterparts.

President Hamid Karzai has personally authorized the release of at least one Taliban commander, infuriating his Western backers. Both Karzai and Afghanistan's attorney general "authorize the release of detainees pre-trial and allow dangerous individuals to go free or re-enter the battlefield without ever facing an Afghan court," a diplomat complained in one cable released by WikiLeaks. Other cables reveal American anger over Karzai's release of well-connected drug traffickers.

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