US hands over two ex-Guantanamo detainees to Mauritania

The United States has handed over two former Guantanamo detainees to their native Mauritania after they were cleared by American courts of suspected terror-related activities, activists and security officials said.

The two men -- Mohamedou Ould Slahi and Ahmed Ould Abdel Aziz -- arrived in Nouakchott on Friday night "after having been cleared by American tribunals", Hamoud Ould Nebagha, the head of a group that works for the liberation of Mauritanians held at Guantanamo Bay told AFP on Saturday.

He said they had both been held at the US prison camp in southern Cuba for several years.

Slahi was detained on suspicion of being a member of the so-called "Hamburg cell" in Germany linked to the September 11, 2001 attacks.

It was not immediately clear when the court decision was made.

A security source who requested anonymity said the pair had been accompanied by US police officials who handed them over to local police in Nouakchott. They were then driven "to an unknown location".

Since May 23, a handful of the men's family members have been gathering outside the US embassy in Nouakchott to demand their release.

In 2009, the US transferred a third Mauritanian Guantanamo detainee to Nouakchott.

More than 11 years after it opened, the Guantanamo prison still holds 166 detainees. Of those still languishing at the US military prison, more than half -- 86 -- have been cleared for transfer, some of them for the past five years.