Abu Ghraib prison abuse convict freed

Charles Graner Jr., 42, was released from the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., around 10 a.m. Saturday after serving more than 6 1/2 years of a 10-year sentence

August 6, 2011 8:21:22 PM PDT
Charles Graner Jr. was at the center of an abuse scandal that shook the world, convicted of abusing inmates at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

But now, he is a free man.

Graner is the last Abu Ghraib guard connected to the scandal to be released from prison.

It was these shocking photos of inmate abuse at the prison that made Graner one of the faces of Abu Ghraib back in 2004.

After serving six and a half years of his 10-year sentence, Graner was released Saturday.

"I'm sorry that it took so long. He should have been released years ago," attorney Guy Womack said.

Womack is a defense lawyer from Houston who specializes in military law. He defended Graner at trial in 2005.

"I'm convinced that he was not guilty of any offense. He was clearly following orders from his superiors, and I believe the orders were lawful, and that was our defense at trial," Womack said.

Graner was an Army Reserve corporal when he and six others were accused of torturing detainees.

Photographs of inmates, naked and bound, were used as evidence during trial.

Womack said Graner was labeled the ringleader at Abu Ghraib because he was seen in several of the images.

"When all of this came out, every one of the superior enlisted and officers at Abu Ghraib and in their direct chain of command ran like roaches when the lights came on. And they denied any knowledge of anything, and it was shameful," Womack said.

Womack says commonly-used prisoner control techniques were taken out of context in the photos.

During his trial, Graner gave Eyewitness News a picture of himself standing with the same detainees. He claims it was taken two months after those now-infamous jailhouse images.

Graner will remain on probation through December 2014.

"For Charles Graner, I expect him to be welcomed back into society," Womack said.

Eyewitness News spoke to Graner's father on the phone Saturday. He told us Graner wants to go back to school and had hopes of becoming a teacher, though he believes that is likely out of the question now.

He also said the family is upset with the government. They believe Graner was a scapegoat.

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