By Ken Schwartz
Two inmates from the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba have been transferred to Ghana for resettlement, U.S. Defense Department officials said Wednesday.
The two Yemen-born men, Mahmoud Omar Mohammed Bin Atef and Khalid Mohammed Salih al-Dhuby, had been held as enemy combatants, without charge, for nearly 14 years.
Following a comprehensive review of their cases, it was determined the two inmates do not pose a security threat, Pentagon officials said.
“The United States is grateful to the government of Ghana for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” said Pentagon spokesman Gary Ross.
While in Ghana, authorities will strictly monitor the activities of the two men, he added.
Ghana’s foreign ministry said the men were cleared of all terror charges, but suggested they may only be allowed to stay in the country for a limited time.
“We have indicated our readiness to accept them for a period of two years, after which they may leave the country,” said a foreign ministry statement.
The Pentagon says 105 prisoners remain at Guantanamo. Over a dozen others are expected to be moved from the prison in the next few weeks.
President Barack Obama has made closing down the military prison one of his goals before he leaves office. But many in Congress are reluctant to approve shutting Guantanamo because some of its inmates would be transferred to various federal prisons across the U.S.
This is the first time that the U.S. has transferred Guantanamo prisoners to a sub-Saharan African country. Many of the remaining prisoners at the facility are Yemeni, but cannot be repatriated there because of ongoing instability.
This article was adapted from a piece Ken Schwartz contributed to VOA News, see the original here.