ACLU Urges Supreme Court To Hear Case Of 17 Uighurs Detained Indefinitely At Guantánamo

May 7, 2009 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union urged the United States Supreme Court in a friend-of-the-court brief to hear the case of 17 Chinese ethnic Uighurs who have been detained without charge for over seven years at Guantánamo Bay and whose continued detention was found unlawful by a federal district court. The district court ordered the Uighurs, who the government concedes are not “enemy combatants,” released into the U.S. because they cannot be returned to China given the threat of torture there, and because no other country has agreed to accept them. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed that decision in February when it held that federal courts are powerless to order the men released into the U.S. even if their continued detention is illegal. In its friend-of-the-court brief filed yesterday, the ACLU urged the Court to review the D.C. circuit decision.

The following can be attributed to Jennifer Chang Newell, a staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project:

“The Supreme Court should review the D.C. circuit ruling in order to enforce the landmark decision in Boumediene v. Bush holding that the constitutional guarantee of habeas corpus applies to Guantánamo detainees. The Constitution requires that where a federal court has found a detainee’s imprisonment to be illegal, the court must have the power to order his release – including release into the United States when necessary to end the unlawful detention. Permitting the government to hold these men indefinitely violates the Constitution and threatens to render habeas corpus a dead letter.”

The ACLU’s friend-of-the-court brief is available online at: www.aclu.org/scotus/2008term/kiyembav.obama/39536lgl20090506.html

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