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US moves prisoners from Afghanistan to Yemen

Two Yemeni prisoners allegedly seized outside Afghanistan released from US military prison near Kabul, Pentagon says.

Last updated: 28 Aug 2014 10:56
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The US is seeking to shut down its detainee programme in Afghanistan ahead of its troop withdrawal [EPA]

The United States has moved two more prisoners out of a military prison near the Afghan capital after nine prisoners were repatriated to Pakistan last week, the Pentagon has said.

The move comes as the Obama administration seeks to shut down a controversial detainee programme in Afghanistan ahead of its troop withdrawal.

Two prisoners were moved from the Parwan detention centre, located on a military base near Kabul, this week and were sent to Yemen, Lieutenant Colonel Myles Caggins III, a US military spokesman, said on Wednesday.

All eleven prisoners were handed to the governments of their home countries, the Reuters news agency reported.

Washington has been quietly moving prisoners out of the secretive prison as the US and its NATO allies wind down their long military mission in Afghanistan.

The move brings the number of people remaining at the US detention centre to under 30, the Pentagon said.

All US troops are set to leave Afghanistan, in the grips of a political crisis following a disputed presidential election, by January 1, 2015 unless the country finalises a deal that would permit some foreign soldiers to stay behind.

Political backlash

In closing Parwan, like the much larger Guantanamo Bay US military prison in Cuba, Obama risks political backlash from several directions.

Human rights advocates have criticised long detentions for suspects in such prisons since 2001, most of whom have never been charged with a crime.

Republicans have condemned the Obama administration's release of other detainees, who critics say could easily return to their former activities.

The identities of the detainees at Parwan, who have also included citizens of Tunisia, Russia and Jordan, have largely been a mystery, as has the reason for their imprisonment.

The Yemeni Human Rights Ministry said earlier this year that one of the two men sent back to Yemen last week was captured in Thailand.

'Forcibly rendered'

Meanwhile, the International Justice Network (IJN), which challenged the two men's detention in the US courts, said in a statement that both of them were taken prisoner outside of Afghanistan and were "coercively interrogated" at "secret prisons" before being sent to Afghanistan.

"This is a very joyous day," said Tina Monshipour Foster, attorney and executive director of IJN.

"Mr al-Maqaleh and Mr al-Bakri have been victims of grave human rights violations at the hands of the US government, including torture and extraordinary rendition, and we are absolutely thrilled that their abusive and unlawful imprisonment at Bagram has come to an end."

The IJN said the duo in their petitions allege that they were seized outside of Afghanistan, "far from any recognised battlefield" before being forcibly rendered to secret prisons, "where they were tortured and coercively interrogated in the custody of the CIA".

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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