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Supreme Court to Hear Uighurs’ Gitmo Case

The Supreme Court just announced that it will hear the case of the Chinese Muslim Uighurs — detainees at Guantanamo Bay cleared for release but still in prison there — to decide whether a court can order the government to release detainees into the United States.

The court had previously put off deciding whether to take this case, at the request of the Obama administration, which was scrambling to find places for the Uighurs to go. But although several countries, including most recently the island of Palau, has agreed to take some of the Uighur detainees, at least one remained without a place to go. His brother, also detained, said he would not leave him.

In April, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled that even though the Uighurs were no longer considered dangerous and were being held unlawfully, the courts had no power to order the president to release anyone into the United States. Because the Uighurs cannot return to China, where they would likely be persecuted, and the U.S. government refused to release them in the United States, that left them stuck at the Guantanamo Bay prison indefinitely.

The Supreme Court now has the chance to decide whether federal courts have the power to change that.

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