Uighurs at Guantanamo Urge Court to Hear Case

Originally published by New York Times, 19 February 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — The lead lawyer for Chinese Muslims confined at Guantanamo Bay says the Obama administration is acting a lot like its predecessor by trying to prevent Supreme Court review of controversial detention policies in the fight against terrorism.

The court should reject the administration’s ”ploy” and hear the Chinese Muslims’ case as scheduled on March 23, Boston-based attorney Sabin Willett wrote Friday in a letter to the court. The Chinese Muslims, or Uighurs (pronounced WEE’-gurs), argue that courts have the authority to release the detainees into the United States.

The administration is employing the ”familiar tactic of imprisoning and delaying for years, then seeking dismissal at the last moment to evade review,” Willett said, citing efforts by both the Obama and Bush administrations in earlier cases.

The Justice Department wants the court to back out of the case now that all seven Uighurs who remain at Guantanamo have received offers of resettlement in other countries.

The justices’ resolution of the matter is important because it could affect other Guantanamo detainees — those who have been cleared for release but have no place to go — and further complicate President Barack Obama’s now-delayed pledge to close the facility at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.

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