Mahmmoud Omar Mohammed Bin Atef, one of the two Guantanamo Bay detainees, who were transferred to Ghana on Wednesday, says he is happy to have been received by Ghana, it has been reported.
The New York Times reported that George Clarke, a lawyer for Mr Bin Atef, said his client was upset with the US authorities for imprisoning him for nearly 14 years without trial.
The paper quoted Mr Clarke as saying that for the six months he had represented Mr Bin Atef, he had found him to be a “friendly, nice guy” who was “positive and has a good attitude ”
“He is very appreciative and happy the Ghanians are taking him,” he was quoted as saying by the New York Times.
The government of Ghana’s decision to accept Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih, who are believed to have ties to Al Qaeda, has provoked a firestorm of controversy and outrage among Ghanaians, with many expressing fear that the move would undermine Ghana’s internal security and expose the country to attacks from religious extremists.
An International Relations expert, Professor Keith Bluwey, told Accra-based Starr FM on Thursday that the decision was “reckless” and “dangerous”, adding that the government was only interested in the financial benefits that it may derive from it.
“It is not in our interest, these people are not ordinary refugees who are being found places of rest, these are criminals, terrorists to the core, Osama Bin Laden activists and they should have no place in Ghana,’ he said.
But in a statement issued through its Accra Embassy on Thursday, the US government noted that Ghana was aware of potential threats posed by the two detainees and had taken measures to mitigate those threats, adding that their transfer had been approved by the Inter-agency Guantanamo Review Task Force after a “comprehensive review” of their cases.
The statement said: “The decision to transfer a detainee is made only after detailed, specific conversations with the receiving country about the potential threat a detainee may pose after transfer and the measures the receiving country will take in order to sufficiently mitigate that threat, and to ensure humane treatment.
“The United States coordinated with the Government of Ghana to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures.”
The US went on to commend the government of Ghana for what it said was the West African country’s “humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility”.