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U.S. Transfers Prison Over To Afghan Control

The U.S. has handed over the last detention center in Afghanistan still in its control to the Afghan government, closing the chapter on a key sticking point between the two countries.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, handed over Parwan after signing an agreement with Afghan Defense Minister Bismullah Khan Mohammadi. The facility will be renamed the Afghan National Detention Facility at Parwan.

About 3,000 prisoners are in Parwan — most under Afghan control. The U.S. will continue to maintain authority over about 100 prisoners. The Associated Press reports that about a dozen non-Afghan nationals at the facility will also remain under U.S. control.

Here's more from the AP:

"An initial agreement to hand over Parwan was signed a year ago, but efforts to follow through on it constantly stumbled over American concerns that the Afghan government would release prisoners that it considered dangerous.

"A key hurdle was a ruling by an Afghan judicial panel holding that administrative detention, the practice of holding someone without formal charges, violated the country's laws. The U.S. argued that international law allowed administrative detentions and also argued that it could not risk the passage of some high-value detainees to the notoriously corrupt Afghan court system.

"An initial deadline for the full handover passed last September and another earlier this month."

As NPR's Michele Kelemen reported on All Things Considered, the handover came just hours before Secretary of State John Kerry met in Kabul with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Kerry said the handover was a sign the U.S. is committed to making sure Afghanistan takes the lead in its security.

"As of today, we don't have prisoners," he said. "Whatever is occurring here is under the control of the Afghan people and the U.S. will cooperate with the government of Afghanistan."

As Michele reported, the U.S. is still holding some non-Afghan prisoners at the facility. Kerry didn't elaborate on the arrangements made about those prisoners the U.S. fears still pose a danger. Karzai said the two sides will exchange views.

"The United States will through intelligence sharing, in writing, inform the Afghan intelligence service of the information, the intelligence of a particular person , that is considered an enduring security threat," the Afghan president said.

The U.S. began keeping prisoners at the Bagram Air Field in 2002, soon after the start of the so-called war on terrorism. In 2008, a new facility was opened in nearby Parwan.

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