Uighurs Ask Supreme Court for Their Freedom

AP, April 6, 2009

Chinese Muslim detainees at Guantanamo Bay asked the Supreme Court on Monday to order their release into the United States.

In court papers, a group of Uighurs (proponounced WEE’-gurz) says the high court should overrule a federal appeals panel in Washington, which has blocked the release of the Uighurs.

A federal judge determined in October that the Uighurs should be freed because the Pentagon no longer considered them enemy combatants. U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina said they should be allowed into this country because the administration could find no other country willing to accept them.

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“The US government has acknowledged that these 17 men are wrongly imprisoned at Guantanamo and have nowhere safe to go,” said Emi MacLean, staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “If President Obama is truly committed to closing Guantanamo, these men should be on a plane to restart their lives in the United States.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said Urbina had gone too far in ordering the men released into the United States.

The three-judge appeals panel suggested the detainees might be able to seek entry by applying to the Homeland Security Department, which administers U.S. immigration laws. But the court bluntly concluded that the detainees otherwise had no constitutional right to immediate freedom after being held in custody at Guantanamo without charges for nearly seven years.

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