The U.S. military accused the Afghan government of betrayal after Kabul ordered the release of 37 “dangerous individuals” from Bagram prison, saying the inmates were involved in attacks that killed NATO and Afghan soldiers.
The prisoners due for release are among a group of 88 who have not faced trial but who are said by Washington to pose a serious security threat. Originally held by American troops, they were handed over to Afghan forces when the prison was transferred last year, after Karzai demanded control of his own citizens.
The deal for that handover was meant to give the US a veto on any plans to free prisoners it considered particularly dangerous, but the military said its opposition to the releases had been ignored.
It said the men were “individuals under dispute who are legitimate threats to security and for whom there is strong evidence or investigative leads supporting prosecution or further investigation”.
Karzai’s office has said government investigations turned up solid evidence against only 16 of the group of 88, and criticised the US for meddling in Afghan domestic affairs.
“Foreign forces do not have the right to condemn the decision of the judicial authorities of an independent and sovereign country,” spokesman Aimal Faizi said. “This is acting like an occupying force, not an ally or partner.”