Senegal has agreed to grant asylum to two Libyans detained in Guantanamo Bay on “humanitarian grounds” and in line with “Senegalese hospitality and Islamic solidarity,” the Foreign Ministry has said in a statement.
The decision follows the “historic decision” by the US government to close down the controversial detention centre, the statement added.
The two, Omar Khalifa Mohammed Abu Bakr and Salem Abdul Salem Ghereby had been detained without charge for 14 years.
The United States appreciates the generous assistance of the government of Senegal as the United States continues its efforts to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility.
Senegal: Dakar Accepts 2 From Guantanamo https://t.co/C1Vpf0wir9— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) April 4, 2016
Both of the men were suspected of being longtime members of a Libyan Islamist group — known as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, or LIFG — that was dedicated to overthrowing the dictatorship of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, and also having served as explosives trainers at Islamist training camps in Afghanistan.
US President Barack Obama first promised to close the facility seven years ago.
US Secretary of State John Kerry thanked Senegal for taking them. He reiterated the Obama administration’s arguments that the prison should be closed because it is costly and fuels anti-American sentiments abroad.
“The United States appreciates the generous assistance of the government of Senegal as the United States continues its efforts to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility,” Mr. Kerry said in a statement. “This significant humanitarian gesture is consistent with Senegal’s leadership on the global stage.”
The transfers of the two men have reduced the detainee population at the prison to 89.
Dozens of countries have received former Guantanamo Bay detainees, including other African states such as Uganda, Ghana and Cape Verde, following appeals from the US government.