Angering US, Karzai to Free Bagram Prisoners

16 Others to Remain Pending Further Review

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has confirmed that 72 of the 88 detainees the Obama Administration is trying to keep in Bagram are now entirely cleared for release, with 45 of them totally cleared of any wrongdoing and 27 others lacking sufficient evidence to hold them.

The other 16 aren’t facing trial either, with officials saying there’s not enough to prosecute, but they have enough evidence that they will continue to be held pending further review.

That 88 were initially slated for release by the Afghan Review Board, which sparked US complaints that the board was never meant to have the power to release anybody, but was only meant to decide between prosecution and indefinite detention.

US officials continue to warn that the release of the detainees threatens US-Afghan ties in the long run, but the paucity of evidence justifying the detentions, which is clearly not a big deal for the US anymore, has Afghanistan’s fledgling justice system convinced they can’t just keep them in prison forever.

In a way, this reflects how much the US has changed in the past 12 years, as it was the US that tried to establish the Afghan system in their own theoretical image, and now sees their interest in things like due process and evidence as a source of tension.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.