Karzai Says He Will Free ‘Innocent’ Afghans in US Custody

President Hamid Karzai
President Hamid Karzai

U.S. troops have arrested “innocent” Afghans who would be freed immediately, President Hamid Karzai said Wednesday, three days before his government takes full control of Bagram prison north of Kabul.

“We know as a fact that innocent people are jailed in these prisons,” Karzai told lawmakers as they returned to the capital after their winter break.

“I’ll issue a decree to free them immediately and let them join their families even if you might make a lot of criticism,” Karzai said, adding that those involved in killings of Afghans and bombings would remain in custody.

Arrests of Afghans by the U.S. military have been a sensitive issue between Kabul and Washington.

U.S. military personnel stands on a guard tower at the Parwan detention facility near Bagram
U.S. military personnel stands on a guard tower at the Parwan detention facility near Bagram

Bagram prison, also known as the Parwan Detention Center, was transferred to Afghan control in September, but an official in Karzai’s office said the handover was incomplete and some Afghan prisoners had yet to be transferred to Afghan custody.

“After March 9, no Afghans will be in US custody anymore,” Karzai spokesman Aimal Faizi said, adding the custody transfers involved about 400 prisoners.

“There are dozens of dangerous prisoners who will remain in Afghan custody,” Faizi said.

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