In late 2003, the Pentagon quietly decided that 15 Chinese Muslims detained at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could be released. Five were people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, some of them picked up by Pakistani bounty hunters for U.S. payoffs. The other 10 were deemed low-risk detainees whose enemy was China's communist government -- not the United States, according to senior U.S. officials.Now, after nearly seven years in detention, a US judge has ruled that the Uighurs must be released into the US, agreeing with their attorneys that holding the men without cause is unconstitutional:
More than 20 months later, the 15 still languish at Guantanamo Bay, imprisoned and sometimes shackled, with most of their families unaware whether they are even alive.
At a hearing packed with Uighurs who live in the Washington area, Urbina rejected government arguments that he had no authority to order the men's release. He said he had such authority because the men were being held indefinitely and it was the only remedy available. He cited a June decision by an appellate court that found evidence against the Uighurs to be unreliable.Apparently the government plans to appeal, but Urbina seems firm in his determination that these men have gotten a raw deal and that they will be released from custody, period (he didn't take kindly to the proposal that US Immigration authorities might re-detain the Uighurs either). Good for him.
Urbina said in court that he ordered the release "because the Constitution prohibits indefinite detention without cause." He added, "The separation of powers do not trump" the prohibition against holding people indefinitely without trial...
...Justice Department lawyer John O'Quinn asked Urbina to stay the order for a week, giving the government time to evaluate its options and file an appeal. Urbina rejected that request and ordered the Uighurs to appear in his courtroom for a hearing on Friday. He said he would then release them into the custody of 17 Uighur families living in the Washington area.
I'll go further: the United States of America should pay these men an annual stipend equivalent to a decent income for a period of time allowing them to adjust to their new lives here. I'd say for about seven years, at the very least.
(H/T to Nathan Bransford)