NATO slams Afghan prisoner release

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NATO on Thursday joined the United States in criticizing Afghanistan's decision to release prisoners accused of attacks on coalition forces.

“I am gravely concerned by the decision of the Afghan authorities to release 65 detainees who are alleged to have been involved in killing and wounding Afghan civilians, Afghan security forces, and ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] forces,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement.

“This decision, which appears to have been made based on political calculations and without regard for due process before the Afghan courts, is a major step backwards for the rule of law in Afghanistan, and poses serious security concerns.” 

The Afghan Review Board announced it would release 88 detainees, and issued release orders for 37 of them last month, but had not actually released any of the detainees until Thursday. The decision has further incensed the Obama administration and U.S. lawmakers already frustrated with Afghan President Hamid Karzai's refusal to sign a deal to keep U.S. forces in the country past 2014.

“The Afghan government has an obligation to uphold the rule of law and to ensure the security of the country,” Rasmussen said. “I call on the Afghan authorities to make every effort to ensure that the released detainees do not pose a further threat to the people of Afghanistan and the international forces who are dedicated to building security in Afghanistan.”

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