WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court Wednesday blocked the planned release of 17 Chinese Muslims from the U.S. military facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, granting the government more time to argue against the plan.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals granted the Bush administration’s motion for an emergency stay and set up a schedule for briefings over the next week to address the complicated issues of the case.
A day earlier, a lower court in Washington ruled the detainees — who had been in U.S. custody for nearly seven years — were to brought to the court by 10 a.m. Friday so a judge could set them free.
In an emergency motion filed overnight, Justice Department attorneys said only the executive branch — not the courts — may decide whether to admit an alien into the United States.
The government further argued the lower court’s decision to free the detainees “threatens serious harm to the interests of the United States and its citizens by mandating that the government release in the nation’s capital 17 individuals who engaged in weapons training at a military training camp.”