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The first two of the 17 detainee scheduled to be released from Guantanamo Bay prison this month will be transferred to Ghana, U.S. military officials announced Wednesday.
This marks the first time Ghana has taken a detainee from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. The detainees, Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby are Yemeni and both have been held since 2002.
Atef and Al-Dhuby are suspected of participating in hostilities against U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. Their attorneys have denied the accusations.
In a 2006 Department of Defense detainee assessment, Atef was deemed a high risk as a likely threat to the U.S. and its allies, and it was noted that he had an extensive record of threatening and attacking his guards.
Once the 17 prisoners are transferred, there will be 90 detainees remaining at Guantanamo — marking the first time in a decade the population at the prison has been below 100.
The fate of Guantanamo Bay has remained a sore point between Congress and the Obama administration.
Congress has repeatedly thwarted Obama's effort to fulfill a 2008 campaign promise to close the military prison, and in November the Senate passed a bill that bans moving Guantanamo Bay detainees to facilities in the United States.
The White House has previously hinted that the president might use his executive authority to close the prison. In November, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the administration is focused on working with Congress to shut down Guantanamo, but he left the door open on the president taking executive action.