Justices Reject Gitmo Detainees' Appeal
By GINA HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer 2 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court rejected an appeal
Monday from two Chinese Muslims who were mistakenly
captured as enemy combatants more than four years ago
and are still being held at the U.S. prison in Cuba.
The men's plight has posed a dilemma for the Bush
administration and courts. Previously, a federal judge
said the detention of the ethnic Uighurs in Guantanamo
Bay is unlawful, but that there was nothing federal
courts could do.
Lawyers for the two contend they should be released,
something the Bush administration opposes, unless they
can go to a country other than the United States.
A year ago, the U.S. military decided that Abu Bakker
Qassim and A'Del Abdu al-Hakim are not "enemy
combatants" as first suspected after their 2001
arrests in Pakistan. They were captured and shipped to
Guantanamo Bay along with hundreds of other suspected
The U.S. government has been unable to find a country
willing to accept the two men, along with other
Uighurs. They cannot be returned to China because they
likely will be tortured or killed.
President Bush meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao
at the White House on Thursday.
German officials are being pressed to take the men,
according to a report over the weekend in a newspaper
It would have taken an unusual intervention of the
Supreme Court to deal with the case now.
Lawyers for Qassim and al-Hakim filed a special
appeal, asking justices to step in even while the case
is pending before an appeals court. Arguments at the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
Circuit are next month.
Justices declined, without comment, to hear the case.
Bush administration Supreme Court lawyer Paul Clement
told justices that there were "substantial ongoing
diplomatic efforts to transfer them to an appropriate
Clement said that in the meantime, the men have had
television, a stereo system, books and recreational
opportunities: including soccer, volleyball and
The detainees' lawyers painted a different picture,
saying that hunger strikes and suicide attempts at
Guantanamo Bay are becoming more common and that the
men are isolated.
"Guantanamo is at the precipice," Boston lawyer Sabin
Willett wrote in the appeal. "Only prompt intervention
by this court to vindicate its own mandate can prevent
the rule of law itself from being drowned in this
intensifying whirlpool of desperation."
About 500 foreigners are being held at Guantanamo Bay.
Lawyers for more than 300 of the men filed a brief in
Monday's case, saying that Qassim and al-Hakim "are
far from the only innocent non-combatants languishing
Justices ruled two years ago that the detainees could
use American courts to challenge their detentions. And
the court this summer will rule on a case testing the
goverment's plans to hold war-crimes trials at
Qassim and al-Hakim were captured as they fled a
Taliban military training camp where they were
learning techniques they planned to use against the
Chinese government. They are Uighurs, Turkic-speaking
Muslims who have a language and culture distinct from
the rest of China.
The case is Qassim v. Bush, 05-892.
On the Net:
Supreme Court: http://www.supremecourtus.gov/