U.S. Judge Orders Release of 17 Uighur Muslims from Guantamo

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A U.S.federal judge has called for the immediate release of seventeen Uighur Muslims who have been detained in GuantanamoBay/st1 :place> for the past seven years, because they're no longer "enemy combatants."  Despite this presumed innocence, they've remained in Guantanamo/st1 :city> since they have been unable to find a country that will resettle them. /span>

Albaniaspan style="font-size: 9pt; font-family: Arial"> provided residence for five Guantanamo-detained Uighur Muslims in 2006 and Chinahas offered to repatriate all seventeen "terror suspects," but Washington isn't sure that they would have a very safe and torture-free return to China/st1 :country-region>.  Considering the recent friction between the Chinese government and Uighur Muslims, the majority of whom live in XinjiangProvince/st1 :place>, the fears of those imprisoned are probably justified.  /span>

China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang says "China has urged the U.S. to repatriate these Chinese terrorist suspects to China on many occasions," and further maintains that all countries must work together to combat the war on terror, but it's doubtful these Uighur Muslims will return to China any time soon, if ever./span>

Despite the country-less situation of the prisoners, Judge Ricardo M. Urbina has called for their immediate release.  He considered the detention "unconstitutional," because it constituted imprisonment without charge.  Since the U.S.can't seem to find another country that will be an appropriate home, the detainees will be relocated to the U.S./st1 :country-region>  They will live with members of the Uighur community in the WashingtonD.C./st1 :place> area until another hearing next week to determine their new permanent homes./span>

U.S. Department of Justice officials, on the other hand, maintain that the federal courts should not have the authority to determine the release of the foreign-born detainees, and should, instead defer to the executive branch.  They also note the potential implications for foreign relations, especially in this case, since locating the detainees in the U.S./st1 :place> could negatively influence U.S.-China relations./span>

Given the political weight of this decision, however, it's much more likely to have a stronger impact internally, though it probably won't be completely resolved before next January.  Since the Supreme Court ruled in June that Guantanamo/st1 :city> prisoners have the right to challenge their detention in civilian courts, there will probably be several more hearings in subsequent months. /span>

Both John McCain and Barack Obama have vowed to close Guantanamo/st1 :city> if elected, adding additional complexity to the issue.  While the case of released Uighur Muslims and the June Supreme Court ruling probably won't appear in tonight's debate, the candidates' response to these decisions are worth considering when choosing the next U.S./st1 :country-region> president.  

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