The Supreme Court will no longer hear the case of 17 Chinese Muslims held at Guantanamo even though a judge had ruled their freedom. The decision came after the Obama Adminsitration tle the high court that all these Uighurs have been offered to leave for countries outside the United States. While 12 of them have left Guantanamo, the remaining five Uighurs have rejected the deal and stayed in the US prison. The court said since the remaining Uighurs are not held in prison against their will, the court will drop the case.
The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to hear the appeal of 13 Chinese Muslims at Guantanamo Bay naval base who are cleared for release yet are still being held.
The justices rejected the Obama administration’s plea that they stay out of the case. Since 2004, the court has issued decisions ensuring that judges play a strong role in protecting prisoner rights at the U.S.-run naval base in Cuba.
The Uighurs, members of a Muslim minority originally living in western China, had fled to Afghanistan. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, they were among hundreds of men transferred to U.S. forces and sent to Guantanamo.
They initially were held as “enemy combatants,” but that status was lifted. They would be free to return to China if they did not fear persecution there. This summer, ethnic rioting in Western China led to a crackdown on Uighurs.
A district court judge last year ordered the Uighurs brought to the U.S. and freed, but an appeals court reversed.
Administration lawyers argue in a brief that judges lack the power to order the release into the U.S. “outside of the framework of the immigration laws.” Lawyers for the Uighurs counter that judges may intervene when the government has “brought the prisoners to our threshold, imprisons them … without legal justification, and — as seven years have so poignantly proved — there is nowhere else to go.”
The case will test the strength of a 2008 Supreme Court decision giving Guantanamo detainees a constitutional right to challenge their imprisonment.
Obama has set to close Guantanamo by January 22 of next year. The administration has been working on developing resettlement options for the Uighurs but has had little success.
Canada has refused a request from the Obama administration to take 17 Chinese Muslims called Uighurs cleared for release from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay. A spokesperson for Prime Minister Harper says they have no connection to Canada and there are security concerns. Authorities claim that Uighurs detained at Guantanamo were fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Uighurs fear persecution if they are sent back to China. Their quest to settle in Canada is complicated by the case of Omar Khadr, a 22-year-old Canadian who has been detained in Guantanamo since 2002 on accusations of lobbing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier during a battle between al-Qaeda fighters and U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
The United States has asked Germany to accept some Guantanamo prisoners when the facility is closed, the Interior Ministry said Sunday, confirming German media reports. An Interior Ministry spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with the ministry’s policy, confirmed a report in Der Spiegel magazine that the U.S. has provided a list of names of prisoners it would like Germany to accept. “There is a concrete request,” the spokesman said, saying he could not provide any further details. Der Spiegel reported, without citing sources, that the U.S. had asked Germany to accept 10 prisoners. Top-selling Bild newspaper, meanwhile, reported the 10 were Chinese Muslims, known as Uighurs. It also did not cite sources. President Barack Obama has ordered the military prison in Cuba shuttered in the next nine months. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said at the end of April that the U.S. Justice Department is still trying to determine how many of the 241 prisoners in Guantanamo will be taken by other countries. Also at the end of April, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spent several days privately asking European leaders in London, Prague and Berlin for help relocating prisoners the United States wants to set free. In Berlin, Holder said the United States had made decisions on a group of about 30 prisoners, but had not yet decided where it wants to send them. Torsten Holtz reports.