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Afghans Demand U.S. Hand Over Its Major Battlefield Prison

• Spencer Ackerman via

The U.S. military has promised to hand over control of its largest battlefield jail to the Afghan government — eventually. The Afghan government has decided it’s waited long enough.

For years, the U.S. has said it plans to give the Afghans control of the mega-jail it constructed on the outskirts of Bagram Air Field to house the suspected insurgents it captures. In March, after numerous delays, the military and the Afghan government inked a deal to relinquish control of the so-called Detention Facility in Parwan within six months. Eight months later, it hasn’t happened, displeasing President Hamid Karzai.

Karzai has ordered his aides to implement the “full Afghanization” of the detention center, blasting the U.S. for continuing to detain Afghans whom Afghan courts have ordered released. “These acts are completely against the agreement that has been signed between Afghanistan and the U.S. president,” reads a statement from Karzai’s office, which goes on to urge “all required actions for full Afghanization of Bagram prison affairs and its complete transfer of authority to Afghans.”

The Pentagon says that remains the plan, but the hangup is on the Afghan side. “In late August, after the majority of detainees had been transferred [to Afghan control], we paused transfers while we worked with the Afghans to clarify their plans for how detainees will be held in the future,” says Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a Pentagon spokesman. But it appears that whenever the U.S. will actually finish handing over the prison, “we are restarting the transfer of detainees whom we have mutually assessed should be prosecuted by the Afghans.” A few dozen Afghan detainees remain at Parwan.


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