updated 10/12/2006 8:44:03 AM ET 2006-10-12T12:44:03

Exhausted, but happy, 16 Afghans were freed in Kabul on Thursday after being released by the U.S. military from its Guantanamo Bay jail.

Aged from 25 to more than 55, they had been held as suspected fighters for the Taliban or its allies in Afghanistan after U.S.-led forces overthrew the Taliban government in 2001.

Several of the bearded men interviewed by journalists, some wearing green, hospital-style ID tags on their wrists, said they were treated badly by the U.S. military during their detention in Afghanistan and at the Guantanamo base in Cuba.

One, Sayed Mohammad Ali Shah, a doctor, said he had been arrested on false information given to the U.S. military by an Afghan with a personal grievance against him.

“They imprisoned me without any reason,” he said at a ceremony held by Afghan authorities for the release of the prisoners. “Here, we were persecuted physically, but at Guantanamo we were persecuted mentally.”

He was held for four years. The prisoners were freed recently and handed over to Afghan authorities, who held them for several more days before Thursday’s release ceremony.

They are the latest batch of detainees to be freed from Guantanamo, where the treatment of prisoners has drawn widespread international condemnation.

More than 400 suspected militants, captured mostly in Afghanistan and Pakistan, remain there.

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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