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Abu Ghraib abuse ringleader released after more than 6 years in prison Activist expects outrage in Iraq over release

The convicted American ringleader of abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison was released Saturday from a military prison, an Army spokeswoman said.

Charles Graner Jr., 42, was freed from the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., after serving more than 6 1/2 years of a 10-year sentence, spokeswoman Rebecca Steed said. He will be under the supervision of a probation officer until Dec. 25, 2014, she said.

Steed said she could not release any information about Graner's whereabouts or his destination after release.

Graner was an Army Reserve corporal from Uniontown, Pa., when he and six other members of the Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company were charged in 2004 with abusing detainees at the prison near Baghdad. The strongest evidence was photographs of grinning U.S. soldiers posing beside naked detainees stacked in a pyramid or held on a leash.

The pictures complicated international relations for the U.S. and provoked debate about whether harsh interrogation techniques approved by the Pentagon amounted to torture.

Graner was convicted of offenses that included stacking the prisoners into a pyramid, knocking one of them out with a head punch and ordering prisoners to abuse themselves while soldiers took pictures. He maintained that the actions were part of a plan directed by military intelligence officers to soften up prisoners for interrogation.

Graner is the last Abu Ghraib defendant to be released from prison. He had received the longest sentence.

Hana Adwar, an Iraqi human rights activist, told the Associated Press that the "easy" release of a criminal who "committed a war crime" would be met with outrage in Iraq.

"He was charged with a crime that shocked the international community, and then he was released," she said. "I believe that such an act is an attempt to deceive and blind the Iraqi nation."

Steed said Graner was released before serving his maximum sentence under rules that include days off for good behavior. She said he lost some good conduct time for institutional rule infractions while incarcerated, but she wouldn't provide details.

During his deployment, Graner fathered a son with former Pfc. Lynndie England of Fort Ashby, W.Va. England was given a three-year sentence for her role in the scandal.

After his conviction, Graner married another member of his unit, former Spc. Megan Ambuhl of Centreville, Va. She was discharged from the Army after pleading guilty to dereliction of duty for failing to prevent or report the maltreatment.

Seven guards and four other low-ranking soldiers were convicted of crimes at Abu Ghraib.

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