Afghanistan Thumbs Nose at US, Frees 65 Detainees

US fears 65 suspected militants will return to battlefield
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 13, 2014 12:07 AM CST
Afghanistan Defies US With Prisoner Release
A detainee stands inside a cell inside the Parwan detention facility near Bagram north of Kabul, Afghanistan.    (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)

Afghanistan released 65 accused militants from a former US prison today despite protests from the American military, which says the men are Taliban fighters who will likely return to the battlefield to kill coalition and Afghan forces. The release was ordered by President Hamid Karzai several weeks ago, after his government took over the prison from US troops. The decision prompted angry denunciations from Washington and further strained relations between the two countries ahead of the year-end withdrawal of most international combat troops.

US forces in Afghanistan say some of the men are responsible for killing or wounding dozens of international and Afghan soldiers. The US has argued for the detainees to face trial in Afghan courts—citing strong evidence against them, from DNA linking them to roadside bombs to explosive residue on their clothing—but Kabul has cited insufficient proof to hold them. Karzai has also referred to the Parwan prison as a "Taliban-producing factory" where innocent Afghans are tortured into hating their country. The US has grown increasingly frustrated with Karzai lately. (More Hamid Karzai stories.)

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