The Afghan government says it will release 88 prisoners seen as posing a security threat by the US, ignoring warnings from Washington ahead of a planned pullout of international forces from the country later this year.
“We found no evidence to show these people having hands in terrorist activities,” said Abdul Shakoor Dadras, who heads a government-appointed panel reviewing the prisoners’ cases.
“They have passed long terms in detention without being assessed. So, we decided to free them,” he added.
The government made the announcement last week when it released some 650 prisoners.
The decision angered US officials, who said the 88 prisoners are Taliban fighters involved in attacks that killed at least 60 American soldiers and more than 50 civilians.
President Hamid Karzai’s refusal to sign a security pact with the US allowing some foreign troops to remain in Afghanistan after the planned withdrawal of the NATO-led military alliance has strained relations with the US.
US senator Graham Lindsey has warned the release would have a negative impact on relation with Kabul.
The Taliban has called the prisoners innocent civilians.
“They are not the mujahideen detained by the US, because mujahideen are held in a military jail in Kabul,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the insurgents told DPA.
The 88 prisoners are held at Bagram prison, which is located near to the biggest US military airbase of the same name some 60km north of the capital Kabul.
The US handed over the prison to the Afghan government in March.
More than 3000 people, mostly Taliban fighters, are being held at Bagram.