A freed Yemeni detainee is hugged by a family member after his arrival at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 5, 2017. REUTERS

WASHINGTON – The United States on Thursday announced the release of four detainees from the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Saudi Arabia.

Two of the four men had been unanimously approved for transfer following a comprehensive review of their cases by six departments and agencies that comprise a review task force, the US Defence Department said in a statement.

The review examined a number of factors, including security issues, the Pentagon said.

Separate reviews determined that continued law of war detention the two other men “does not remain necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.”

The Pentagon identified the men as Salem Ahmad Hadi Bin Kanad, Muhammed Rajab Sadiq Abu Ghanim, Abdallah Yahya Yusif Al-Shibli and Muhammad Ali Abdallah Muhammad Bwazir.

The US is grateful to Saudi Arabia for its “humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing US efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” the statement said.

The Pentagon did not say when the men were transferred. Their departure leaves 55 detainees at the military prison, which President Barack Obama has sought to close.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said to expect more transfers before president-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated on January 20.

The prison was opened 15 years ago after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, serving to hold suspected Islamic terrorists outside the US justice system.

At least 779 men were held there for various lengths of time. Trump said Tuesday there should be no more prisoner releases from the US military prison.

During the campaign he promised to keep the prison open and to continue sending prisoners there. – dpa

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