Chinese Muslims' Detention Ruled
But Federal Judge Blocks Release
CHARLIE SAVAGE / Boston Globe 23dec2005
[More on Guantanamo]
WASHINGTON — A federal judge ruled yesterday that it is illegal for the Bush administration to continue holding two Chinese detainees at the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, but the judge said that his court does not have the power to order Bush to release the men.
The detainees are among 15 Chinese Muslims, part of an ethnic group known as Uighurs. All have been held at Guantanamo for four years after being arrested in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A military tribunal ruled nine months ago that the Uighurs were not "enemy combatants" fighting against the United State after all, and ordered them released.
But because China has a history of persecuting Muslims, US law forbade returning them to their homeland and no other nation has been willing to take them in.
The plaintiffs' lawyers argued that Judge James Robertson should order that the military release the men from the prison and either house them in the civilian portion of Guantanamo or allow them to live in the United States.
Robertson ruled yesterday that while the president lacks the authority to hold innocent prisoners, a federal district court cannot by itself provide them with a home.
"An order requiring their release into the United States . . . would have national security and diplomatic implications beyond the authority of this court," Robertson wrote.
Last summer the Bush administration that the president's authority as commander in chief included the power to continue holding the men in order to wrap up their detention in an orderly fashion. Robertson had agreed to give the government time to find a new home for the Uighurs.
But after six months went by without a diplomatic breakthrough, Robertson said he had to issue a ruling, so the plaintiffs could at least seek a remedy through an appeals court.
Sabin Willett, a Boston-based attorney representing the two men, could not be reached for comment late yesterday. A Justice Department spokesman did not return a call late yesterday.
source: http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2005/12/30/46_guantanamo_detainees_join_hunger_strike?mode=PF 3jan2006