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Pentagon transfers 2 Guantanamo detainees to Algeria

The US Department of Defense says it is transferring two detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Algeria after a comprehensive review of their cases. This will bring the number of detainees down to 164.

Follow RT’s timeline of the Gitmo hunger strike

The two detainees who are being transferred are Nabil Said Hadjarab and Mutia Sadiq Ahmad Sayyab. 

Nabil Hadjarab, a 34-year-old Algerian citizen, who has been cleared for release since January 2010. 37-year-old Matai Sadeek Ahmad Saib, also an Algerian citizen, was cleared for transfer in January 2006.

“Today the Department of Defense certified to Congress its intent to repatriate an additional two detainees to Algeria, we are taking this step in consultation with the Congress, and in a responsible manner that protects our national security,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.

A press release from the US Department of Defense thanked the government of Algeria for its cooperation in the transfer deal.

“The United States is grateful to the Government of Algeria for its willingness to support ongoing US efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The United States coordinated with the Government of Algeria to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures,” the press release read.

President Obama has repeatedly tried to close the camp and transfer those cleared for release abroad and those who need to be put on trial into US prions on the mainland. However he has been blocked by the Republican-dominated congress and struggled to find countries deemed safe and willing to accept prisoners.

“We continue to call on Congress to join us in supporting these efforts by lifting the current restrictions that significantly limit our ability to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo, even those who have been approved for transfer,” Carney added.

Alan Singer, of Hofstra University's Department of Social Studies, told RT that while getting out of Guantanamo Bay is quite an accomplishment, what Hadjarab and Saib face next is uncertain.

"Algerian officials have to decide their future,” said Singer. “It’s not clear what will happen to these men" especially Hadjarab, whose family resides in France.

The last prisoner to be released from Guantanamo before today's announcement was Hammad Memet in April 2012. 

Gitmo has been under intense international scrutiny in recent months as more than 100 of its inmates, most of whom have been cleared for release, have been on hunger strike to protest against their indefinite detention.

Some of them have been fasting since February, and as of August 23, 37 inmates were still refusing food, according to official figures. Many of them have been force fed, a practice criticized by the UN as torture.