The U.S. military on Monday called Afghanistan’s move to release 37 prisoners a “major step backward” in relations between the two countries ahead of the combat troop withdrawal expected later this year.
Afghan officials indicated to the U.S. military that the prisoners were being moved to a location known to prepare those due to be released for reintegration with society. In a statement, the U.S. military said it learned about the orders over the weekend, calling the detainees “dangerous insurgents who have Afghan blood on their hands.”
The release of 88 prisoners from Parwan Detention Facility has become a sticking point as both sides attempt to strike a bilateral security deal that would allow American and allied troops to remain in Afghanistan after December. The U.S. believes the detainees pose a threat to the Afghanistan and the region.
The U.S. wants all of the prisoners to stand trial but Afghan President Hamid Karzai disagrees. Earlier this month, he issued release orders for all but 16 of the Parwan prisoners. Control of the prison, next to Bagram air base, was transferred last March by the U.S. to the Afghan government in a move that aimed to show confidence in the country’s judiciary. The Washington Post reported recently that at least 560 detainees have been released without trial.