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For Immediate Release

Matthew Allee, (202) 580-6922 or

Constitution Project Files Brief Urging Supreme Court to Hear Uighur Detention Case

Bipartisan Organization Calls on Administration to Release Uighurs


Today, the Constitution Project, along with other non-governmental organizations, filed a friend of the court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court urging the Court to accept review of a case in which 17 Chinese Muslims, known as Uighurs, seek release from Guantanamo now that they have been recognized not to be enemy combatants. The brief urges the Court to take the case, Kiyemba v. Obama, and reverse the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that the courts lack the authority to order the release of the Uighurs.

The groups argue that in order to give effect to the Supreme Court's 2008 Boumediene decision recognizing the rights of Guantanamo detainees to file habeas corpus petitions, courts must have the power to order the release of detainees admitted not to be enemy combatants. The Constitution Project filed the brief along with the Brennan Center for Justice, the Rutherford Institute, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the City of New York Bar Association.

The Constitution Project also calls on the Obama administration to release the Uighurs now, without waiting for action by the Supreme Court. The United States cannot repatriate them to China because of state-sponsored persecution and it has not found another country willing to accept them.

The following may be attributed to Sharon Bradford Franklin, Senior Counsel with the Constitution Project:

"If left in force, the D.C. Circuit's decision would completely undermine the habeas rights recognized by the Supreme Court last year. The trial court and the prior Bush administration both recognized that the Uighurs are not enemy combatants and therefore the executive branch lacks the authority to continue to detain them at Guantanamo. Our brief urges the Supreme Court to accept review and make clear that habeas review includes the power to order release where appropriate.

"The Uighurs cannot be sent back to China, where they would surely face religious persecution. Additionally, there is no evidence that the Uighurs would pose any threat to the United States, and the evidence in the case actually shows that there are many resources available in the Uighur community to help these men resettle in this country. The Obama administration should act now to end the unlawful detention of these men and should not wait for the courts to resolve this case."
To see a copy of the brief, go to:

In November, the Constitution Project and ten prominent conservatives released a statement calling for compliance with federal District Court Judge Ricardo Urbina's order to release the Uighurs from Guantanamo. To see a copy of the November statement, go to:

The Constitution Project is a politically independent think tank established in 1997 to promote and defend constitutional safeguards. More information about the Constitution Project is available at