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American officials released 420 detainees — including five women — from military prisons in Iraq on Thursday and Friday, the latest in a series of large-scale releases over the past year.

U.S. officials strongly denied that releasing the female prisoners had anything to do with the demands made by the group that abducted an American journalist in Baghdad.

The group, calling itself the Revenge Brigade, had demanded the release of all female prisoners in U.S. custody in return for Jill Carroll, a freelancer for the Christian Science Monitor who was kidnapped Jan. 7.

Carroll’s abductors had said they would kill her on Jan. 20 unless the U.S. freed all female prisoners in Iraq. The deadline passed without word on Carroll’s status.

“This has nothing to do with that. It’s a normal process that all detainees, including women, go through,” Lt. Col. Guy Rudisill, detainee operations spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq, told several media organizations Thursday.

Maj. Gen. Hussein Ali Kamal, head of intelligence at the Iraqi Interior Ministry, told the Associated Press that he be believed Carroll will be freed, adding the release of the Iraqi women could help.

“Any announcement may not benefit the case because of its sensitivity, but we can say, God willing, that she will be released,” said Kamal, who also said intensive efforts were under way to release Carroll.

After this week’s releases, the U.S. military will have slightly more than 14,000 detainees in centers throughout the country, officials said. Four women remain among that number.

The prison releases have been made under the auspices of the Combined Review and Release Board, which was established in 2004 and consists of nine members: two each from Iraq’s ministries of Human Rights, Justice and Interior and three senior officers from Multi-National Forces-Iraq.

To date, U.S. officials said Thursday, the board has reviewed nearly 27,000 cases and recommended more than 14,000 detainees for release.

Detainees who are released have “admitted their crimes, renounced violence, and pledged to be good citizens of a democratic Iraq,” the military has said after prior prisoner releases. Detainees accused of serious violent crimes such as bombings, torture, kidnapping or murder are not eligible for release.

There have been several other large-scale prisoner releases in the past year, the largest of which were timed to coincide with Ramadan, the Muslim holy month. Some 1,300 prisoners were released from Abu Ghraib after officials said they had reviewed their cases and gotten promises from the prisoners that they would not commit crimes and would participate in a new Iraqi political system.

U.S. officials have said they will close Abu Ghraib and hand it over to the Iraqis, perhaps within a few months. Three other facilities — Camp Cropper, Fort Suse and Camp Bucca — will be the main detention facilities in Iraq and have undergone expansion.

Many other forward operating bases and larger camps have their own detention facilities, which are meant to be used for short periods of time.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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