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Ghana receives two Guantanamo prisoners

The US Department of Defense has announced that two Guantanamo Bay prisoners have been transferred to Ghana. Six years after President Obama ordered the closure of the facility, 105 prisoners remain.

Two men, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih al-Dhuby, were released from detention at the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay and transferred to Ghana, the US Defense Department said on Wednesday.

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Both men are from Yemen and had been recommended for release since 2009. However, conditions in Yemen have been deemed too unstable for the men to be released there.

"We have indicated our willingness to accept them for a period of two years, after which they may leave the country," a statement on Ghana's Foreign Ministry website read. The two men are the first Guantanamo detainees to be released to Ghana.

"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 US Defense Department statement read.

The detention center at Guantanamo Bay was established in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States as a place to detain individuals believed to be connected with the attacks who were captured by US forces in military operations in Afghanistan or counter-terror operations elsewhere.

The facility has held 779 individuals since 2002, and by the time US President Barack Obama signed an executive order to close the prison in January 2009, 36 countries had accepted nearly 70 percent of the detainees following their release.

Of the 105 prisoners left at Guantanamo Bay since the executive order, around 50 have been cleared for release. Congress and the Pentagon have forced several delays to Obama's campaign pledge the close the prison.

mz/msh (Reuters, AP)

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