Afghan criminals will be released into U.S., former ICE director says
An Afghan man wearing a burqa (a type of full-body mask used by Muslims in Afghanistan) and a handgun is escorted by police near a house in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on Jan. 20, 2011, to return to prison. A U.S. official says President Barack Obama has ordered U.S. forces to begin the process of releasing Afghan prisoners of war held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who were found to have been recruited or tortured by the Taliban or allied militant group. (Getty Images)
WASHINGTON – An Afghan official on Tuesday told The Associated Press that about five to 10 criminals who were captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan since last month will be released.
An unnamed Afghan official told the AP that some of the detainees were recruited by the Taliban or some other terrorist group but were brought to the U.S. after being tortured, while others were caught in traffic accidents or illegally crossing the border.
The Taliban is known to have captured some of the men in Afghanistan. But U.S. officials say the Taliban and some of the prisoners who were not captured by the Taliban were captured by U.S. forces.
In his first public comments on the issue, former ICE director Tom Vilsack said that the process of releasing the men from Guantanamo Bay will take between six and 12 months.
“The process is being conducted on a day-to-day basis, and the final step before someone is released is for the president to sign an order for release,” Vilsack said in an interview with Fox News.
“We have the authority to release those who are eligible, and we are exercising our authority,” he said, referring to the authority of the Justice Department and the State Department, which has to approve such releases.
The White House has been reluctant to call for the release of the men held at the U.S.