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Justices reject appeal of Gitmo detainees who aren't "enemy combatants"

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060417/ap_on_go_su_co/scotus_guantanamo_detainees Justices Reject Gitmo Detainees Appeal By GINA HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 17, 2006
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060417/ap_on_go_su_co/scotus_guantanamo_detainees

      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
      terrorists.

      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
      there.

      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
      country."

      Clement said that in the meantime, the men have had
      television, a stereo system, books and recreational
      opportunities: including soccer, volleyball and
      ping-pong.

      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
      at Guantanamo."

      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
      Guantanamo Bay.

      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/
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