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Judge Orders Release of 17 Gitmo Prisoners into the US

Posted Oct 7, 2008 12:06 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A federal judge has ruled that 17 Chinese Muslims at Guantanamo Bay who are no longer considered enemy combatants should be released into the United States by Friday.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina of Washington, D.C., said the Constitution bars the government from holding the men indefinitely without cause, the Washington Post reports. The story says the decision is the first by a federal court ordering the release of a Guantanamo detainee.

Urbina said he had the authority to order the release of the men, known as Uighurs, as the only available remedy. The men cannot be released to China because it considers them terrorists and might torture them.

Urbina ordered a hearing to consider conditions for the release of the men, SCOTUSblog reports. Both the Post and SCOTUSblog say an appeal is likely.

The Justice Department told the court in a filing last week that it had removed 12 Uighurs from its list of enemy combatants, SCOTUSblog reported last week. Five others had already been removed from the list.

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