The U.S. government says it has released two prisoners from Guantanamo Bay and sent them back to their native Algeria.

A Pentagon statement on Thursday identified the two men as Djamel Saiid Ali Ameziane and Bensayah Belkecem. They had been held at the U.S. base in Cuba for more than a decade on suspicion of having links to terrorism but neither had been charged with any crime.

Military and State Department officials portrayed the release as part of a renewed effort by President Barack Obama to close the prison amid opposition by Congress.

The releases bring the prison population to 162.

A lawyer for at least one of the men had urged that he not be sent back to Algeria, where he fears persecution and imprisonment