U.S. Frees Nearly 1,000 Iraqi Detainees
The U.S. military announced Saturday that it had released nearly 1,000 prisoners from Abu Ghraib prison over the last few days in response to a request by Iraqi authorities.
The move, the largest prisoner release to date, followed appeals by Sunni Arabs to start freeing thousands of prisoners who had been in the jail for months without being charged.
Sunni negotiator Saleh Mutlak met with Iraqi transitional President Jalal Talabani on Thursday and later said Talabani had agreed to release many detainees before the scheduled Oct. 15 referendum on the constitution.
The U.S. command said the prisoner release was “a significant event in Iraq’s progress toward democratic governance and the rule of law.”
“Those chosen for release are not guilty of serious, violent crimes -- such as bombing, torture, kidnapping, or murder -- and all have admitted their crimes, renounced violence, and pledged to be good citizens of a democratic Iraq,” the U.S. statement said.
Abu Ghraib prison, built on the outskirts of Baghdad in the 1970s, has been used as a major detention center by U.S. authorities since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The complex gained international notoriety after some U.S. military personnel were charged with humiliating and assaulting detainees.