Washington U.S. military officials will gradually hand over 110 Afghan prisoners to Afghanistan's government in the largest repatriation of detainees from the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since it was converted to a military prison for terrorism suspects three years ago, the Pentagon said Thursday.
In addition, U.S. authorities plan to turn over about 350 other Afghans now in U.S. custody in Afghanistan after new prison space is built to accommodate them, officials said.
The agreement will move the Bush administration a step closer to dealing with the troublesome diplomatic problems caused by the Guantanamo prison. The indefinite detentions of approximately 510 Guantanamo prisoners are viewed in many parts of the world and by critics in the United States as human-rights violations.
Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said the agreement with Afghanistan reflected "ongoing efforts to transfer detainees to their home countries, as appropriate, and when we receive the assurances that the ... detainees do not pose a continuing threat."