"Federal Judge Orders Release of Chinese Muslims"
by William Glaberson, published October 7, 2008, New York Times.
WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Bush administration to immediately release 17 Chinese Muslims who have been held for seven years at Guantánamo Bay, and to allow them to stay in the United States, because they are no longer considered enemy combatants.Read the rest here.
The ruling, handed down by Federal District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina, marked the first time that any United States court rejected government arguments and ordered the release of detainees from Guantánamo Bay, an American naval base in Cuba, since the detention center there opened in 2002.
Judge Urbina said that the detention of the 17 prisoners — members of the Uighur ethnic group, a restive Muslim minority in western China — was unlawful, noting that the Constitution prohibits indefinite imprisonment without charges.
"I think the moment has arrived for the court to shine the light of constitutionality on the reasons for the detention," he said.
The judge ordered the 17 detainees, all of whom are men, brought to his courtroom next Friday, but the government suggested that it would immediately appeal the ruling, and that perhaps immigration officials might detain the men on their arrival in the United States.
The judge reacted angrily, saying he did not want the detainees molested by anyone in the government, in what he called an urgent matter.
"There was a pressing need to have these people, who have been incarcerated for seven years — to have those conditions changed," Judge Urbina said.