Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai orders release of prisoners seen as threat by U.S.
January 10, 2014 -- Updated 1015 GMT (1815 HKT)
A general exterior view of Bagram Prison facilities is seen outside Kabul on March 25, 2012 in Afghanistan.
- The Afghan spy agency finds no evidence against 72 inmates of Bagram prison
- A judiciary meeting chaired by President Hamid Karzai clears them for release
- The prisoners are "dangerous criminals" linked to terrorism, the United States says
- The release order comes amid broader tensions between Washington and Kabul
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai has authorized the release of dozens of prisoners seen as a security threat by the United States.
A judiciary meeting chaired by Karzai decided Thursday to free 72 prisoners from Bagram prison after the presentation of a report from the Afghan spy agency saying there was no evidence against them, Karzai's office said in a statement.
But the U.S. State Department disagreed with the decision.
"These 72 detainees are dangerous criminals against whom there is strong evidence linking them to terror-related crimes, including the use of improvised explosive devices, the largest killer of Afghan civilians," Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman, said at a news conference Thursday.
"These insurgents, who pose threats to the safety and security of the Afghan people and the state, are being released without an investigation and without the use of criminal justice system in accordance with Afghan law," Psaki said.
The prisoner release order comes amid broader tensions between Washington and Kabul over Karzai's current unwillingness to sign a bilateral security agreement to keep some U.S. and other coalition troops in Afghanistan after this year.
Karzai has said he won't sign the deal until after the country's elections in April and until certain conditions are met, including an end to U.S. raids on Afghan homes and the release of Afghan prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay detention center.
The judiciary meeting chaired Thursday by Karzai tasked the Afghanistan Criminal Cases Review Commission with releasing the 72 prisoners. It also asked the review commission to reassess the cases of the 16 other inmates in the prison against whom the spy agency says there is evidence.
The planned release of the 72 prisoners "undermines Afghanistan's court system and rule of law, because the Afghan people do not get their day in court," Psaki said Thursday.
It's not the first time that Karzai's decision to release prisoners has upset the United States.
The early and pre-trial release of prisoners by the Afghan government, at times at Karzai's hand, frustrated U.S. officials, diplomatic documents released in 2010 by WikiLeaks revealed.
CNN's Masoud Popalzai reported from Kabul, and Jethro Mullen reported and wrote from Hong Kong.
Part of complete coverage on
March 15, 2014 -- Updated 0128 GMT (0928 HKT)
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this baffling disappearance.
March 14, 2014 -- Updated 1146 GMT (1946 HKT)
The two pilots who were flying Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 may lead to a few clues in the investigation.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1534 GMT (2334 HKT)
As investigators search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, analysts try to figure out why the high-tech plane's transponders were disabled.
Track star Oscar Pistorius is accused of killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Follow live updates of South Africa's trial of the century.
March 14, 2014 -- Updated 0958 GMT (1758 HKT)
A CNN team joins international observers trying to get into Crimea from Ukraine -- here's what they saw.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1224 GMT (2024 HKT)
Watch how Pope Francis is redefining the papacy and breathing new life into the Catholic Church.
March 14, 2014 -- Updated 1629 GMT (0029 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1545 GMT (2345 HKT)
Michael Oren: He says the question is whether a truce can prevent conflict from becoming conflagration.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster changed global attitudes towards nuclear power. Explore our interactive to find out how.
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 2029 GMT (0429 HKT)
You -- the person now reading this story -- can help experts solve the mystery of what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1051 GMT (1851 HKT)
Scientists around the world are investigating whether living cells can be used to print replacement organs and tissues.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
There are two Web clips featuring Beyonce that have been getting a lot of attention.
Today's five most popular stories