There is another major issue that remains unresolved at the prison.
The memorandum of understanding did not address the estimated 50 non-Afghan prisoners that the U.S. is holding at the prison. They include individuals from Pakistan, Tunisia, Yemen and detainees transferred to Bagram from other wars, such as Iraq. The U.S. will retain custody of these non-Afghan prisoners until their fate is addressed in another agreement between the Afghan and U.S. governments.
At the ceremony, 16 prisoners, all wearing matching gray sweaters, were released.
Haji Lalai from Kandahar, the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban, said he was detained at the prison two years — 20 months by the U.S. military and four months under Afghan guard.
“It was OK, but sometimes the Americans had a bad attitude against us,” he said, adding that he didn’t like the prison food and often shivered in his cell. “I am happy to be released. I was not an insurgent. I was innocent. I was arrested in my house.”
Mirwais, a man from Zabul province in the south who uses only one name, told a similar story.
“The U.S. raided my home. I’m a shopkeeper. I was at home with my family and they raided my home at night and took me to Bagram,” Mirwais said, adding that he was imprisoned for 10 months. “The Americans’ attitude toward us was not good.”
• Riechmann reported from Kabul. Associated Press Writer Patrick Quinn in Kabul also contributed to this report.