US ends control of Afghan prisons after years of war; final detainees transferred

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WASHINGTON — The United States on Wednesday released the final three detainees from the Parwan Detention Center in Afghanistan, ending the U.S. operation of any prisons in the country after more than a decade of war, the Pentagon said.

Two of the detainees, including Redha al-Najar, were transferred into Afghan custody for possible prosecution, while the third wasn't considered a threat and is seeking resettlement in another country.

In 2002, al-Najar was the subject of "enhanced interrogation" techniques by the CIA, according to the newly released Senate Intelligence Committee report.

The report said al-Najar, a former bodyguard of Osama bin Laden, was held at the so-called CIA salt pit in Afghanistan where his interrogation included "isolation in total darkness; lowering the quality of his food; keeping him at an uncomfortable (cold) temperature, playing music 24 hours a day and keeping him shackled and hooded."

It also said he was left hanging — with his wrists handcuffed to an overhead bar — for 22 hours a day for two days, had to wear a diaper and had no access to toilet facilities.

After a month, the Senate report said, al-Najar was "clearly a broken man" and "on the verge of complete breakdown." The Senate report cited a CIA cable saying al-Najar was willing to do whatever the CIA officer asked. U.S. military participation in his interrogation was forbidden because it was seen as a risk to military personnel.

U.S. officials had worked to transfer all remaining detainees before the end of this year, when the U.S. combat mission ends.

In a statement Wednesday, Lt. Col. Myles Caggins, a Pentagon spokesman, said that after careful review, the U.S. has transferred the last of the third-country nationals held in U.S. custody in Afghanistan.

"The Defense Department no longer operates detention facilities in Afghanistan nor maintains custody of any detainees," he said, adding that the government of Afghanistan will be responsible for any detention facilities.

The turnover was complicated earlier this year by ongoing U.S. worries that the Afghans were releasing Taliban fighters who would likely return to the battlefield. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai drew U.S. ire in February when he released 65 detainees, including some directly linked to attacks that killed or wounded U.S. and coalition personnel.

The U.S. had argued for the detainees to face trial in Afghan courts, citing strong evidence against them — from DNA linking them to roadside bombs to explosive residue on their clothing. However, Kabul said there was insufficient proof to hold them.

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