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17 Innocent Uighurs Detained at Guantanamo Ask Supreme Court for Release

Supreme Court Asked to Determine Whether an Illegally Imprisoned Detainee is Entitled to a Remedy


Today, lawyers
for 17 Uighurs imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay asked the Supreme Court to recognize
that the right to habeas corpus requires a remedy when a court finds that an
individual is wrongly detained. The petition for the writ of certiorari, filed
at the Supreme Court, asks for the Uighurs release from the detention center,
where they have been detained since 2002. If the Court agrees to hear Kiyemba v. Obama, this would be the first
time that it hears a Guantanamo case since deciding the landmark Boumediene v. Bush in June 2008.

"We now have asked the Supreme
Court to hear the Uighur cases, and rule that the writ of habeas corpus
guarantees to the innocent not just a judge's learned essay but something
meaningful - their release," said Sabin
Willett, of Bingham McCutchen, an attorney for the Uighur detainees.

In October 2008, D.C. District
Court Judge Ricardo Urbina ordered the U.S. government to release 17 wrongly-imprisoned
Guantanamo detainees into the United States. The men, Uighurs
from China, had been imprisoned without
charge for over seven years. The U.S. government has acknowledged it neither had
the authority to detain them nor could it release them to China because of
a risk of torture. However, on February 18, 2009, the D.C. Circuit Court
of Appeals reversed the decision and held that the indefinite detention of the
men could continue. The men have now asked for the Supreme Court to review
the case and find, as the District Court did, that their "release into the
continental United States is the only possible effective remedy."

"This is now President Obama's
Guantanamo. If he is truly committed to closing the detention center, these men
should be on a plane to restart their lives in the United States," said Emi MacLean, staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). "The U.S. government has
acknowledged that these 17 men are wrongly imprisoned and have nowhere safe to
go Seven years is too long for such a grand mistake to go without a

The petition
reads: "This Court has already held that imprisonment the Executive cannot
show to be authorized by law is a particular wrong that does have a remedy, and
that remedy is release."

For a copy of the petition or to
learn more about Kiyemba v. Obama,

CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo for the last six
years - sending the first ever habeas attorney to the base and sending the first
attorney to meet with a former CIA "ghost detainee" there. CCR has been
responsible for organizing and coordinating more than 500 pro bono lawyers
across the country in order to represent the men at Guantanamo, ensuring that
nearly all have the option of legal representation. In addition, CCR has been
working to resettle the approximately 60 men who remain at Guantanamo because
they cannot return to their country of origin for fear of persecution and

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. CCR is committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

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