Friday, January 23, 2009

Uighurs Seeks Release from Obama Administration

Seventeen Chinese Uighurs, still held at Guantanamo Bay while their case is on appeal, have asked the Obama Justice and Defense Departments to release them, according to Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog.  I previously posted (with links) on the Uighur case here and here.

Judge Urbina (D.D.C.) ordered the Uighurs released; the Bush administration appealed, arguing that Urbina's order violated separation of powers, and, in any event, that the Uighurs were too dangerous to be released into the U.S.--in part because they might be angry that the U.S. wrongfully held them for so long (!)--and that no other country would take them.  The D.C. Circuit has not yet ruled in the case.

The Uighurs now seek release, referencing President Obama's new EO ordering a review of all Guantanamo cases in their letters to AG-designate Holder, Acting AG Filip, and Secretary of Defense Gates.  (My post on that EO is here.)

The case presents another significant test for the Obama administration--to press the appeal, or to drop it, comply with Urbina's order, and release the Uighurs into the U.S.--especially in light of the NYT report on Friday that a formerly released detainee turned around to become the deputy leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen, underscoring the trickiness and potential danger of these decisions.  (The NYT in today's paper asks Where Will Guantanamo Detainees Go?, looking at these and related issues.)

We'll stay on top of developments.


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