June 16, 2004 – The interim Iraqi government is calling on the US to release all prisoners, including deposed dictator Saddam Hussein, to Iraqi control when partial sovereignty is handed over to the American-appointed administration by June 30. Prime Minister Iyad Allawi told Al-Jazeera in an interview yesterday that "all the detainees will be transferred to the Iraqi authorities and the transporting operation will be done within the two coming weeks. Saddam and the others will be delivered to the Iraqis."
Allawi's comments conflict with an Associated Press report that General Barry Johnson indicated the United States would continue to hold 4000-5000 prisoners after the June 30 deadline without due process because they are deemed a threat to the Coalition. Occupation chief Paul Bremer told the Washington Post, "legal custody and physical custody can be two separate things." Yet Prime Minister Allawi seemed confident that Saddam and the other detainees will be handed to the Iraqi government, "and you can consider this as an official confirmation," he said.
Also yesterday, Iraqi President Ghazi Al-Yawer called for the US to leave Saddam Husseinâ€™s Republican Palace, which the United States has been occupying since the April 2003 fall of Baghdad. "Whatever we do with [the palaces] is a matter for Iraqi sovereignty. It is a symbol of Iraqi sovereignty," Al-Yawer said.
CPA senior advisor Dan Senor indicated in a press conference yesterday that there are no plans to hand over the palaces. "We will need not only the requisite property from which to operate, but in an area that enables us to maximize, to the extent that we can, the security of our U.S. citizens working here," Senor said.