For Immediate Release
13 Innocent Uighurs Still Detained at Guantánamo After Being Cleared for Release Since 2004 Get Their Day in Court
NEW YORK - Today, the Supreme Court announced it will hear the case of 13 men who
remain imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay despite being cleared for release
since 2004 and will address the issue of whether a court can order them
released into the United States when there is no other remedy. The men,
Uighurs from China, are represented by the Center for Constitutional
Rights (CCR) and co-counsel Bingham McCutchen LLP, Kramer Levin
Naftalis & Frankel LLP, Miller & Chevalier, Baker &
McKenzie LLP, Reprieve, and Elizabeth Gilson.
This will be the first time the Court hears a Guantánamo case since it decided the landmark case brought by CCR and co-counsel, Boumediene v. Bush, in June 2008, and the first time the Obama administration will argue a Guantánamo case before the high court..
“We are gratified that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.
We hope this will result in a ruling that confirms that the writ of
habeas corpus guarantees to the innocent not just a judge's learned
essay but something meaningful – his release,” said Sabin Willett, of Bingham McCutchen, lead 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 Guantánamo detainees
into the United States. The men had been imprisoned without charge for
over seven years. Four of the men have since been resettled in Bermuda.
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 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
In the wake of Boumediene, 30 of the 38 Guantanamo habeas cases heard
by the lower courts have resulted in a finding that the detainee was
unlawfully held, but, since the Court of Appeals decision in the Uighur
cases, the trial courts have felt that they lacked the power to do
anything more than order the government to make diplomatic efforts to
release the men. As a result, 18 of the 30 detainees found to be
wrongly detained by the courts in the last year remain in detention.
"If President Obama is truly committed to closing Guantánamo, he should
help these men restart their lives here in the U.S.,” said CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren.
“They got the wrong men, and have kept them imprisoned for nearly eight
years because there was nowhere safe to send them. If we expect the
rest of the world to help us end this mess, we have to start by taking
some responsibility for cleaning it up ourselves.”
For more on Kiyemba v. Obama, click here.
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 Guantánamo because they cannot
return to their country of origin for fear of persecution and torture.
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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. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.