USA Finally Hands Over Bagram Prison to Afghan Authorities
The United States of America handed over control of the Bagram military prison to Afghan authorities on Monday, having resisted pressure from President Karzai to make the handover for many months.
The fate of Bagram prison has been the subject of a long running dispute between the United States and Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai made the transfer of the prison to Afghan control a key priority in his preparations for the withdrawal of foreign combat troops in 2014. US authorities, however, have consistently delayed the handover due to concerns that high profile Taliban and Al Qaeda suspects could be released. A planned handover scheduled for March 9th was postponed after President Karzai announced that “innocent” prisoners who have not been convicted of any crime would be released. The US has pushed for Bagram to follow a similar model to Guantanamo Bay, where prisoners were held for many years without charge or trial under martial laws.
A telephone conversation between US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and President Karzai on Saturday finally laid the issue to rest, and the handover ceremony took place early on Monday.
“This ceremony highlights an increasingly confident, capable and sovereign Afghanistan,” said the commander of international forces in Afghanistan General Joseph Dunford.