Karzai: US ‘harassing’ Afghanistan over detainee release

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Thursday that the United States must “respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty” as the country released 65 detainees despite vocal U.S. objections.

Karzai said the U.S. should stop “harassing” his nation's judicial authority over the release of the detainees, whom U.S. officials say are Taliban fighters who have killed U.S. troops and will rejoin the fight.

"Afghanistan is a sovereign country. If Afghanistan judiciary authorities decide to release prisoners, it is of no concern to the United States,” Karzai said in Ankara, Turkey, according to The Associated Press, where he was attending a summit between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey.

The Obama administration has blasted Karzai as Afghanistan signaled in recent weeks that it intended free 88 detainees held at the Parwan Detention Facility at Bagram Air Base.

On Thursday, 65 of the 88 detainees were released.

"The release of these dangerous individuals poses a threat to U.S., Coalition and Afghan National Security Forces as well as the Afghan population. Insurgents in the group released today have killed Coalition and Afghan Forces," U.S. Forces-Afghanistan said in a statement.

The Obama administration has said the detainees are linked to the deaths of NATO and Afghan troops, but the Afghan government has said there is no evidence to hold them.

The detainee release threatens to further erode U.S.-Afghan relations at a time when the Obama administration is threatening to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan over Karzai’s refusal to sign a bilateral security agreement regarding a post-war force in the country.

Karzai has said he intends to wait until after Afghanistan’s presidential election before signing the agreement.