U.S. transfers two Yemeni Guantanamo prisoners to Ghana

U.S. transfers two Yemeni Guantanamo prisoners to Ghana

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A Humvee from the Puerto Rico Army National Guard's, 480th Military Police Company, patrols the perimeter of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, Oct. 7. (Photo: Flickr / The U.S. Army)

WASHINGTON (Talk Media News) – The Pentagon said Wednesday evening that it transferred two Yemeni Guantanamo inmates to Ghana as part of the Obama administration’s ongoing efforts to close the detention center on the U.S. base in Cuba, bringing the number of detainees down to 105.

Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Ateff, 36, and Khalid Muhammad Salih al-Dhuby, 38, cannot repatriate to Yemen because of language in the 2016 defense policy bill barring the transfer of inmates to the shaky nation.

“The United States is grateful to the government of Ghana for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing US efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” a statement announcing the release from the Pentagon said.

In a statement obtained by Al Jazeera, the Ghanaian foreign ministry said that the two men “have been cleared of any involvement in any terrorist activities.” The Associated Press reported that the ministry said it is “ready to accept them for a period of two years, after which they may leave the country.”

According to military documents obtained by The New York Times, Atef admitted to being a member of the Taliban and was alleged to have been a fighter in Osama bin Laden’s guerrilla style 55th Arab Brigade.

He had been held at Guantanamo since January 2002.

Al-Dhuby was alleged to have been a “probable member” of al Qaeda who “probably engaged in hostile activities against coalition forces,” according to the military documents. He had been held at the facility since May 2002.

Both men had been cleared for transfer for nearly six years.

Their release followed a “comprehensive review,” and received unanimous approval by the six departments and agencies comprising the Guantanamo Review Task Force, created under President Obama in 2009, the Pentagon said. Congress was notified of the transfer, as required by law.

The Obama administration has been working to close the detention center in Cuba before the president leaves office, a promise he made during his first campaign.

Obama has received continuous push back from Congress in his efforts to close the facility. During his end of 2015 press conference he indicated that he has not ruled out executive action to close the facility.

“We will wait until Congress has said definitively ‘no’ to a well-thought-out plan with numbers attached to it, before we say anything definitive about my executive authority here,” he said.

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