PUBLISHED: 03:25 EST, 7 May 2012 | UPDATED: 03:25 EST, 7 May 2012
Senior detainees are being secretly released by the United States from a military prison in Afghanistan as part of negotiations with insurgents to curb ongoing violence in the country.
American officials have been using prisoners as bargaining chips in a ‘strategic release’ program to reduce violence in troubled areas, the Washington Post reports.
The newspaper, quoting U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, said freed insurgents must promise to give up violence in terms of their release.
They are often Taliban fighters who would not be freed under the legal system for military prisoners in Afghanistan.
American officials would not say whether released prisoners have later returned to attack U.S. and Afghan troops, the Post said.
The release of prisoners has coincided with the Obama administration’s efforts to end the war that has so far killed 2,000 U.S. troops through negotiation – but it has so far had little impact.
Insurgent leaders have demanded the United States release five prisoners from Guantanamo Bay as a precondition for peace talks.
But releasing prisoners from Guantanamo requires congressional approval, unlike the Parwan detention center, which can be done secretly.
Although releases from Parwan must be approved by the top U.S. military commander and military lawyer and are the only exceptions to the prison’s judicial review board.
The releases are an attempt by the U.S. to make practical gains and quell violence in areas where NATO is unable to ensure security.
U.S. officials said the programme had been running for several years but releases are still relatively rare.
The newspaper quoted U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker as saying: ‘The Afghans have come to us with information that might strengthen the reconciliation process. Many times we do act on it.’
An unnamed official told the newspaper: ‘Everyone agrees they are guilty of what they have done and should remain in detention. Everyone agrees that these are bad guys. But the benefits outweigh the risks.’