Karzai pardons dangerous criminals: WikiLeaks

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered the release of numerous dangerous criminals and drug traffickers detained by US-led coalition forces, leaked American diplomatic cables revealed Tuesday.

Last Updated: Nov 30, 2010, 15:41 PM IST

Kabul: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has
ordered the release of numerous dangerous criminals and drug
traffickers detained by US-led coalition forces, leaked
American diplomatic cables revealed Tuesday.

American officials said they repeatedly rebuked the
president and Afghan attorney general Muhammad Ishaq Alko for
authorising the release of detainees over a three-year period.

"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," said a cable
dated August 2009 and classified as "secret" by US deputy
ambassador to Afghanistan Francis Ricciardone.

"Despite our complaints and expressions of concern to the
GIRoA (Afghan government), pre-trial releases continue," it
said.

Internet whistleblower WikiLeaks has begun releasing a
quarter of a million confidential US diplomatic cables,
detailing embarrassing and inflammatory episodes in what the
White House called a "reckless and dangerous action".

In the August 2009 cable, American officials said that
since 2007, 150 of the 629 detainees transferred from
coalition to Afghan custody had been released without trial.

It said Karzai had pardoned five border policemen in
April 2009 who were caught with 124 kilograms (273 pounds) of
heroin in their police vehicle and had been sentenced to terms
of 16 to 18 years in prison.

They were pardoned "on the grounds that they were
distantly related to two individuals who had been martyred
during the civil war," the cable noted.

The document said Karzai also intervened in a narcotics
case involving the son of a wealthy businessman and one of his
supporters.

The president ordered a second investigation "without any
constitutional authority" it said, which found the defendant
had been framed.

Yesterday, Afghanistan said its relations with the United
States would not be affected by earlier leaked cables
portraying Karzai as weak and paranoid, and his brother as a
corrupt drugs baron.
But the latest cable strikes at the heart of Western
fears that high-level corruption within the Afghan government
is undermining the nine-year war against the Taliban.

Bureau Report