Afghan prison spokesman Maj. Nimatullah Khaki told the AP that the prisoners were freed just after 9 a.m. They boarded a bus to leave the facility, laughing and smiling, he said.
Lieutenant General Ghulam Farouq, the head of the military police that runs the Bagram prison, told the AFP that the men "walked out of the facility and got into cars and headed off to their homes."
The U.S. military issued a statement late Wednesday, prior to the release of the prisoners, warning that, "Detainees from this group of 65 are directly linked to attacks killing or wounding 32 U.S. or coalition personnel and 23 Afghan security personnel or civilians."
According to the AP, Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Zair Azimi refused to address the U.S. military's concerns. "Our responsibility is the protection of the prisoners. That is all," Azimi said.
The release had been ordered by President Hamid Karzai several weeks ago after the US [Obama administration] transferred control of the prison to the Afghan government, the AP noted.
Incidentally, media reports said at the time, that 88 prisoners were to be released. However, Fox News reported on Wednesday that Afghan President Hamid Karzai said last month "the country planned to release all but 16 of 88 prisoners that the United States believes pose a security threat." But ultimately, 65 prisoners were released on Thursday.
In any case, last month, I noted as follows:
US officials are reportedly unhappy with the Afghan government's recent announcement that it will soon release 88 prisoners from a jail that was recently transferred to Afghan control. However, I would assume that these US officials do not include members of the Obama administration since President Obama is a big fan of closing down US detention facilities and handing over the prisoners to foreign governments.
As the President recently explained in a statement issued upon signing a recent bill: "Since taking office, I have repeatedly called upon the Congress to work with my Administration to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The continued operation of the facility weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners... Section 1035 of this Act gives the Administration additional flexibility to transfer detainees abroad by easing rigid restrictions that have hindered negotiations with foreign countries and interfered with executive branch determinations about how and where to transfer detainees... The executive branch must have the flexibility, among other things, to act swiftly in conducting negotiations with foreign countries regarding the circumstances of detainee transfers."
President Obama is clearly a staunch advocate of handing over prisoners to foreign governments - despite the fact that these governments, at a later date, often free the prisoners. Hence, Mr. Obama can't possibly object to the Afghan government's latest plans. After all, it was Obama who steadfastly adhered to his own stated policies when he transferred over the aforementioned jail filled with prisoners to Afghan control - and now the Afghan government has simply decided to release these prisoners!
Hence, I must assume that members of the Obama administration are not among the US officials who are unhappy with the Afghan government's recent decision, but rather it is members of congress and the US military who have voiced their displeasure with the decision.