CHICAGO The soldier who orchestrated abuses of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison was released on Saturday after serving more than six years in a Kansas military prison barracks, a U.S. Army spokeswoman said.
Charles Graner, 42, was released from the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth at about 10 a.m. on Saturday after serving more than 6-1/2 years of a 10-year sentence, U.S. Army spokeswoman Rebecca Steed said.
Graner was convicted on charges of conspiracy to commit maltreatment, dereliction of duty, and assault consummated by battery and indecent acts, Steed said. He was released early for good behavior, she said.
U.S. military leaders, from Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld down, were criticized for setting up Abu Ghraib as a makeshift jail in the months after the U.S. invasion of Iraq and handing control to the ill-suited, low-level soldiers who forced inmates to perform sex acts and abused them physically and psychologically.
The abuses ignited global outrage, and dealt a powerful blow to America's image, when the soldiers' own photographs of their humiliation and intimidation of Iraqi detainees were first published in the spring of 2004.
Images showed Graner giving a "thumbs up" sign behind naked Iraqis piled into a pyramid and grinning over a corpse.
Among the six other soldiers charged from his unit was former Private First Class Lynndie England, who was sentenced to three years in prison for her role in the scandal.
Photographs showed England, then 20 years old, holding a naked Iraqi on a leash. She fell in love with Graner, later having his baby. Graner rejected her for another female soldier in the prison.
Graner will be under supervision by a probation officer until December 25, 2014, Steed said.
All in, 11 military personnel were convicted for prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib.
(Editing by David Bailey)