The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Matthew Allee, (202) 580-6922 or

Constitution Project Welcomes the End of Unlawful Detention of the Uighurs

17 Chinese Muslims to be released from Guantanamo and sent to Palau


News accounts this morning indicate the United States has reached an agreement with Palau, a Pacific archipelagic nation, to accept the 17 Chinese Muslims, known as Uighurs, currently being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The Uighurs have been held at Guantanamo for nearly seven years now, but have long been recognized by the U.S. government not to be "enemy combatants," nor hostile to the U.S., dating back to the Bush administration. The Constitution Project welcomes their long-overdue release from detention.

The saga of the Uighurs' detention at Guantanamo has seen many twists and turns over the past several months. In October of last year, U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Urbina ordered the men released from Guantanamo into the United States, finding no legal basis for their continued detention. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit then overturned that decision in February, ruling that the courts lack the authority to order such a release. The Uighurs' case has been appealed to the Supreme Court, but the Court has not yet decided whether to accept review.

The following can be attributed to Sharon Bradford Franklin, Constitution Project Senior Counsel:

"Today's agreement with the nation of Palau finally brings some modicum of justice for the 17 Uighurs at Guantanamo, who have been detained there for far too long and well beyond the government's recognition that they do not to pose a threat to the U.S. This is a welcome and overdue ending to their unlawful detention.

"But we have also learned in the past couple of weeks of other nations' hesitation to accept additional detainees cleared for release, because the United States has shown no willingness to do the same. By relying solely on foreign nations to end the Uighurs' detention, the United States has missed a great opportunity to accept responsibility and take its own steps to finally start closing the Guantanamo prison."

The Constitution Project and nine prominent conservatives released a statement two weeks ago calling for the release and settlement of the Uighurs in the United States. To see the statement, go to:

The Constitution Project, 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, filed a friend of the court brief in the Supreme Court on May 7, urging the Court to accept review of the Uighur's case seeking release from Guantanamo now that they have been recognized not to be enemy combatants. To view the brief, 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