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A prisoner of war is a person, whether combatant or non-combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict. The earliest recorded usage of the phrase is dated 1660. Captor states hold captured combatants and non-combatants in continuing custody for a range of legitimate and illegitimate reasons. They are held to isolate them from combatants still in the field, to release and repatriate them in an orderly manner after hostilities, to demonstrate military victory, to punish them, to prosecute them for war crimes, to exploit them for their labor, to recruit or even conscript them as their own combatants, to collect military and political intelligence from them, and to indoctrinate them in new political or religious beliefs. (via Freebase)