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US ‘grateful’ Ghana received Yemeni Guantanamo ex-convicts 

hanna tetteh

The US government says it has clarified and addressed all security lapses before transferring two Yemeni detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison to Ghana, nearly six years after their transfer approval.

The two, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby had been in detention for 14 years, after being linked with terrorist group Al-Qaeda.

However, a US multi-agency review undertaken at the start of the President Obama administration decided both men posed minimal risk to national security and ought to be transferred.

The US Department of Defense announced in a statement on its website on Wednesday that “As directed by the president’s Jan. 22, 2009, executive order, the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force conducted a comprehensive review of these cases. As a result of those reviews, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, Atef and Al-Dhuby were unanimously approved for transfer by the six departments and agencies comprising the task force.”

The statement further said the country was “grateful to the Government of Ghana for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The United States coordinated with the Government of Ghana to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures.”

The quiet negotiations between the US and Ghana over the matter are said to have taken about a year.

In an exclusive interview on Eyewitness News on Wednesday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hannah Tetteh said, “They [Atef and Al-Dhuby] are unable to return to Yemen at the moment” and that the Ghana government has agreed to accept them for a period of two years after which they may leave the country.

Meanwhile, government has also agreed to provide humanitarian assistance to persons from Syria following the crisis that happened in the Middle East.

Hanna Tetteh explained that government decided to allow relatives of members of the Syrian community already resident in Ghana who have been displaced as a result of the conflict in their country to resettle in Ghana.

In the case of the two Rwandan refugees, the Ghana government was approached by representatives of the International Criminal Tribunal for that country, to resettle some of the persons who had been tried and had either been acquitted and discharged or had been sentenced and had served their time but did not find it appropriate to resettle in Rwanda.

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