Appeals Court Halts Release of 17 at Gitmo

Goverment seeks to reverse decision to free Chinese Muslims
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 9, 2008 7:10 AM CDT
In this June 5, 2008 file photo, reviewed by the U.S. Military, members of a legal defense team walk at Camp Justice, part of the legal complex of the U.S. Military Commissions at Guantanamo Bay U.S....   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, Pool, File)
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(Newser) – An appeals court has blocked the release of 17 Chinese Muslim detainees at Guantanamo Bay after the Bush administration filed an emergency motion. A lower court had ruled that the men, members of the Uighur minority who have been imprisoned for 7 years, must be released. That decision also said that the detainees should be admitted to the United States, as they would likely face torture if they returned to China.

The government argued that allowing aliens to enter the United States is the prerogative of the president, not the judiciary. The administration declared in 2004 that the 17 men were no longer "enemy combatants," but maintained that they could remain at Guantanamo since they had no country to return to. The appeals court will hear briefings from the government and the detainees' lawyers next week.