Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused the United States of “harassing” his country over the decision to release 65 prisoners, adding that Afghanistan’s sovereignty must be respected.
The Afghanistan government released the detainees on Thursday despite strong objections from U.S. officials, who believe the prisoners are responsible for the death or injury of coalition and Afghan security forces.
“Afghanistan is a sovereign country. If Afghanistan judiciary authorities decide to release prisoners, it is of no concern to the United States,” Karzai said while speaking at a summit in Turkey, the Associated Press reports.
Administration, Defense Department, and congressional officials repeatedly pressed for Afghanistan to keep the detainees in custody. The Pentagon on Wednesday characterized the release as “a major step backward for the rule of law in Afghanistan.”
The back-and-forth over the decision by Afghanistan’s judicial system to release the detainees has further frayed the already strained U.S.-Afghan relationship. U.S. officials have become increasingly frustrated as Karzai has refused to sign a bilateral security agreement — which would dictate a U.S. military presence in the country after the end of the year — until after the upcoming elections.
A State Department spokesman suggested Thursday that the United States was no longer putting a strict timeline on when the the security pact should be signed, except that “it needs to be signed soon.” Administration officials have repeatedly said that a pact needs to be inked in weeks.
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"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."