President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly released well-connected officials convicted of or charged with drug trafficking in Afghanistan, frustrating efforts to combat corruption and providing additional evidence that the United States’ top ally in the country is himself corrupt.
“On numerous occasions we have emphasized with Attorney General Aloko the need to end interventions by him and President Karzai, who both authorize the release of detainees pre-trial and allow dangerous individuals to go free or re-enter the battlefield without ever facing an Afghan court,” reads a diplomatic cable obtained by WikiLeaks and provided to The New York Times. “Despite our complaints and expressions of concern to the [government], pre-trial releases continue.”
Karzai’s ability to release prisoners comes from the transfer of detainees from the Bagram Theatre Internment Facility to the Afghan National Detention Facility, according to the cables. The transfers began in 2007, a year that saw one prisoner released pre-trial. In 2008, Karzai released 104. Halfway through 2009, when one cable was written, he had released 45 already.