U.S. to Free Dozens of Afghan Prisoners

About 80 people detained by the U.S. military in Afghanistan will be released on Sunday, Afghan officials said.

A spokesman for the Afghan Supreme Court (search) said the men had been incarcerated at the U.S. jail in Guantanamo Bay (search), Cuba. However, an aide to President Hamid Karzai said they had been held only in Afghanistan.

Court spokesman Wahid Mozhda said the approximately 80 prisoners would be brought from Bagram Air Base (search), the main U.S. base in Afghanistan, to Kabul and then allowed to return to their homes.

The presidential aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the prisoners had been held at Bagram, the southeastern city of Khost and Kandahar in the south.

American military officials in Kabul said they had no information about any release and referred questions to the U.S. Department of Defense in Washington. Officials at Bagram could not be reached.

American and allied Afghan forces captured thousands of suspected Taliban and al-Qaida members in Afghanistan during and since the bombing campaign which ousted the repressive Taliban government in late 2001.

Hundreds have been classified as "enemy combatants" and transferred to the prison at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo, while many others have been held at U.S. bases in Afghanistan.

Groups of Afghans were released from U.S. custody on several occasions last year, including about 10 men brought from Cuba to Kabul in September at the request of the Afghan government.

The office of U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai said at the time that it was working for the release of more Afghans.