Afghan President Hamid Karzai is accusing the United States of violating an agreement to transfer prisoners at a controversial military prison to the Afghan government.
In September, the United States gave control of Bagram prison north of Kabul to Afghanistan. At the time, Karzai hailed the transfer as a victory for his country’s sovereignty.
But during a meeting late Sunday in Kabul, the Afghan leader said he heard reports by the attorney general and military police commander that “even prisoners who were presumed innocent by the court are still being held” and U.S. forces continue to imprison people against the provisions of a memorandum of understanding between the United States and Afghanistan.
The president’s spokesman, Aimal Faizi, told reporters U.S. forces are holding 57 prisoners at Bagram “despite court orders for their release.”
In a statement issued by his office, Karzai ordered government officials “to ensure a full Afghanization of the prison affairs and a complete transfer of its authority.”
U.S. officials told news agencies the United States is “fully committed to fulfilling the mutual commitments incurred under the memorandum of understanding on detentions.”
U.S. and Afghan officials last week began talks on a bilateral security agreement that will determine how many American military personnel will remain in Afghanistan after international combat forces leave the country by the end of 2014.
The negotiations, which are expected to take several months, also are expected to focus on the sensitive issue of whether U.S. troops can be prosecuted under Afghan law.
Karzai has long said that any remaining American military personnel should be prosecuted in local courts. Washington has stressed that any crimes committed should be tried in the United States.
Failure to strike a similar deal on immunity for U.S. troops in Iraq was a factor in ending the military presence in that country.