A federal appeals court last night blocked the release of 17 Chinese Muslims into the United States from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, until it can hear further legal arguments in the case.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit stayed a federal judge’s order releasing the men, and it ordered oral arguments in the government’s appeal, to be heard Nov. 24. The government is appealing U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina‘s decision Oct. 7 to release the men, all Uighurs, who have been held at Guantanamo Bay for nearly seven years. The same panel temporarily stayed Urbina’s order a day later.
The government has been trying to find new homes for the Uighurs for years. It no longer considers them enemy combatants and provided no evidence that they posed a security risk. The men cannot be returned to their homeland because they face the prospect of being tortured and killed. China considers the men terrorists.
Reuters has a piece on Uighurs in China, “China names eight wanted Olympic terror plotters.”
Later in the article:
China released on Tuesday a wanted list of eight “terrorists” it said had threatened the Beijing Olympics and were bent on achieving independence for its restive western region of Xinjiang.
The eight, all members of China’s mainly Muslim minority Uighur group, belonged to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which the United Nations listed in 2002 as a terrorist organization with links to Al Qaeda, police said.
“The eight are all key members of the ETIM, and all participated in the planning, deployment and execution of all kinds of violent terrorist activities targeting the Beijing Olympics,” Wu Heping, a spokesman for the Public Security Ministry, told reporters.
…. Beijing is also pushing the United States to hand over 17 Chinese Uighurs, held in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay since being captured in Afghanistan in 2001.
It describes the men as members of ETIM and terror suspects who must face “the sanction of the law.”
[But] Rights groups have accused China of exaggerating the terror threat in the region in order to crack down on Uighur demands for greater autonomy and religious freedom.