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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-321803 Afghan / US Prisoner Release (L-O)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=1/16/2005

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=AFGHANISTAN / U.S. PRISONER RELEASE (L-O)

NUMBER=2-321803

BYLINE=MICHAEL KITCHEN

DATELINE=ISLAMABAD

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

HEADLINE: US Frees More Than 80 Afghan Prisoners

INTRO: The U.S. military has freed 81 detainees held in Afghanistan for alleged insurgent and terrorist acts. VOA's Michael Kitchen reports from Islamabad on the unusually large prisoner release.

TEXT: The detainees were taken to Afghanistan's Supreme Court building Sunday and told they could return home, many after months in detention.

They had been among hundreds of Afghans held at the U.S. military base in Bagram, Afghanistan, and other smaller detention centers.

U.S. forces have released small numbers of prisoners in the past, usually transferring the detainees to local police custody.

But this latest release, coming just days before the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, is among the largest ever.

The prisoners had been detained on charges of helping carry out attacks against Afghan and U.S. targets on behalf of the former hardline Taleban regime and their al-Qaida terrorist allies.

Mohammed Yussef Idid, a middle aged man missing one of his feet, was among those freed Sunday. He says he was held at Bagram for about 10 months, despite his protests that he had never been involved in the Taleban-led insurgency.

/// EST. YUSSEF ACT IN PASHTO AND FADE ///

He notes that his foot was amputated well before 2001, when the Taleban began their insurgency after being ousted from power by a U.S.-led coalition. Because of this, he says, it would have been impossible for him to have fought as an insurgent.

The U.S. military in Afghanistan came under criticism last year over alleged beatings and other abuse of prisoners, and later conducted a full review of its detention facilities.

Mr. Yussef says he and his fellow prisoners, however, were not mistreated.

/// EST. 2ND YUSSEF ACT IN PASHTO AND FADE ///

He says they were adequately fed and given time to pray and to take showers. The U.S. military had no immediate comment on Sunday's prisoner release. (SIGNED)

NEB/HK/MK/JJ/RH



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