Updated at 5:36 p.m. ET: -- A U.S soldier suspected of shooting to death 16 Afghan civilians has been flown out of Afghanistan, the U.S. military said.
The soldier was taken out of the country "based on a legal recommendation," said Navy Capt. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman in Washington.
"We do not have appropriate detention facilities in Afghanistan," he said, explaining that he was referring to a facility for a U.S. service member "in this kind of case," The Associated Press reported.
The decision was made by the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, a senior Pentagon official told NBC News. The official could not say whether the suspect would be returned to Afghanistan to face any legal proceedings.
The suspect, whose identity has not been released, appeared before a pre-trial confinement hearing and was ordered held without charges. Within the next seven days, he must be granted another pre-trial confinement hearing to determine whether he should remain in custody. Technically, the process could go on for months before official charges are filed.