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Afghanistan set to release American convicted of torturing detainees

[JURIST] Former US Green Beret Jonathan 'Jack' Idema [BBC profile], the last of three US citizens jailed in 2004 on charges [JURIST reports] of running a private jail and torturing eight Afghan men, will reportedly be released from an Afghan prison soon. Idema, US journalist Edward Caraballo [personal website], and ex-servicemen Brent Bennett entered Afghanistan [JURIST news archive] on a freelance terrorist hunt and were arrested as vigilantes in July 2004 when Afghan forces raided their house in Kabul and found that the men were holding eight Afghan citizens captive. The US government has repeatedly refused to corroborate [JURIST news report] Idema's claim that US counter-terrorism officials had sanctioned the trio's mission. Caraballo and Bennett have already been released and Idema's lawyer said Tuesday that US lawyers acknowledged in court papers last week that Idema's release is "imminent."

In 2005, the three men filed a federal lawsuit challenging their detention. On March 21, US District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered [text, PDF; opinion, PDF] the US Department of State and Federal Bureau of Investigation to respond by Tuesday to allegations by Idema that they ordered his torture while in Afghan custody. US government attorneys have asked that the case be dismissed because the Afghan government has granted Idema amnesty. AP has more.

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