Head of Public Affairs of the US Embassy in Ghana, Daniel Fennell, said the maintenance cost of the two were the shared responsibility of the two governments.
“It’s a shared expense. The upkeep, we’re contributing some for the monitoring and the upkeep of the individuals,” he said on TV3’s current affairs programme, Hot Issues, which is yet to be broadcast.
The latest revelation is in sharp contrast to an earlier statement by the government of Ghana to the effect that the US Government was solely responsible for the maintenance cost of the two whose arrival has since triggered public outcry and criticism.
Ghana’s Deputy Communications Minister, Felix Kwakye Ofosu, told Accra-based Starr FM last week Thursday that the US government will bear the cost of the upkeep of the two former Guantanamo detainees.
However, when asked on Hot Issues as to who is paying for accommodation, feeding, and transportation of the two ex-detainees, Mr Fennell said: “We are contributing, we’re contributing some money towards that and the government of Ghana is making all the arrangements and taking care of them”.
He described Ghana’s decision to host the two detainees as laudable, saying, “Is that so difficult to imagine that Ghana would pay for something that is happening in Ghana? I think it’s laudable, we should be proud of Ghana.”
He added: “The government of Ghana under the Ghana constitution is responsible for the security of everything in Ghana, so they’re keeping track of it, they’re better at it, they’re smart and we think that they are doing excellent job”.
Commenting on statements that the two detainees are low-risk ex-combatant, he quoted an old adage saying, “we have this old expression that we want to exhibit, trust but we also want to verify”
The two ex-detainees – Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby – were relocated to Ghana on January 6 after a deal between Ghana and the US governments.
Many Ghanaians including security experts have questioned the government’s decision to host the ex-detainees who were held without charges and trial for 14 years. Some critics have raised a number of pertinent questions most of which are yet to be addressed by the government.
But at a special media chat on Tuesday, President Mahama denied claims that the government has taken money from the US government to arrive at such a crucial decision.
“There’s no monetary consideration and the US itself would have disclosed if there were any monetary consideration,” Mr Mahama told journalists, adding “It was a direct request from the US to my government. We have been allies to the US for a year, it didn’t start today…”