The US military may retain control of foreign detainees in Afghan prison who are linked to insurgents, despite next year’s transfer of all prison authority to Kabul, a top US military officer said Thursday.
“Our preference would be not to. But I would not rule that out as an option if the government of Afghanistan desired us to do that sometime down the road,” Vice Admiral Robert Harward, in charge of US detention operations in Afghanistan, said in a told a video press conference from the country.
Harward stressed, however, that “President (Hamid) Karzai is very focused on exercising sovereignty of all individuals detained in this country,” adding the US objective was to transfer all prison authority to the Afghan government in 2011.
Harward said there were “less than 50″ foreign suspects detained in Afghanistan.
“Seventy-five percent come from Pakistan; one or two at most from any other country.”
“Our first preference is to repatriate them back to their host countries. If not, prosecute them in the Afghan legal system,” he said, adding that seven prisoners had already been tried under such jurisdiction.
The first US prison transfer took place in late February at a facility in Bagram, north of Kabul, where some 800 prisoners are locked up.
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