According to Wright, the move came as "our existing theatre facility is deterioriating", referring to a jail at Bagram currently holding about 630 alleged al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters captured under the pretext of the so-called "war on terror".
 
The Bagram compound, built on the site of an old airfield during the 1979-89 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, lies about 60km north of Kabul.

Expensive facility

Wright also said the new facility would offer more room and more opportunity for vocational, educational and religious training.

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The move is said to signal that Washington expects to hold detainees  abroad indefinitely, despite claims from the White House that they want to shut down the US-run camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The New York Times newspaper also reported that the current Bush administration previously indicated it would transfer a large number of detainees to the custody of the Afghan government at a new prison outside Kabul, the capital, financed with US funds.

But US officials say the Afghan-run jail cannot handle all the Afghans detained by US forces or new prisoners taken amid an increasingly bloody fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, the Times wrote.

Former detainees allege they were beaten, chained in uncomfortable positions and stripped naked at the Bagram prison after it opened in 2002.
  
Two Afghan men died in US custody at Bagram in December 2002.