U.S. military releases nearly 1,000 detainees from Abu Ghraib prison
BAGHDAD, Iraq – The U.S. military announced Saturday that it released nearly 1,000 prisoners from Abu Ghraib prison over the past few days in response to a request by Iraqi authorities.The move, the largest prisoner release to date, followed appeals by Sunni representatives to start releasing thousands of prisoners who have been languishing in the jail for months without being charged.After a meeting with President Jalal Talabani on Thursday, Sunni negotiator Saleh al-Mutlaq said the president agreed to release many detainees before the Oct. 15 referendum on the constitution. Al-Mutlaq said hundreds of detainees, most of them Sunni Arabs, were to be set free.The U.S. command said the prisoner release “marks 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 by Saddam Hussein’s regime in the 1970s on the outskirts of Baghdad, was retained as a major detention center by U.S. occupation authorities after the dictator was toppled in 2003. It gained international notoriety after some U.S. military personnel were charged with humiliating and assaulting detainees.Later Saturday, Iraqi police said they released an unspecified number of people arrested this week in the region of Madain, 12 miles, southeast of the capital.Sunni politicians had complained to Talabani that the Shiite-controlled police picked up 132 Sunnis in the region to prevent them from registering for the constitutional referendum. The deadline for voter registration is Sept. 1.Vail – Colorado
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