Abdul Rahman to be set free?
A diplomatic source tells NBC News: In response to what the Afghan government is calling "the unprecedented international outcry," the Afghan government intends to release Abdul Rahman by Monday barring any unforseen circumstances. That would mean he would be out by Sunday U.S. time. This comes after a very tough call yesterday from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. In particular, Rice wants the issue resolved quickly before she has to testify at scheduled congressional hearings next week. The controversy threatens to blow up politically for the president at a time when billions of dollars in supplemental aid to pay for the Afghan war and reconstruction are pending.
The primary basis for the release would be the Afghan's claim that Rahman is not mentally competent to stand trial. However, Rice has warned Karzai that that is not an appropriate solution. In any case, he would probably be given security and taken out of the country -- most likely to Germany.
Secondly: NBC News has learned that Karzai will submit nominees for a nine-member Afghan Supreme Court to parliament for confirmation, along with his new, 26-member cabinet. The Supreme Court -- once confirmed -- would help avoid future conflicts between the Afghan Constutition's guarantee of free speech and the underlying premises of Islamic law. However, that is long-term -- the court would likely not be confirmed by the parliament for at least a month.
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