For Immediate Release
Innocent Uighurs Still Detained at Guantánamo after Being Cleared for Release Since As Long Ago As 2003 Ask Supreme Court to Set
WASHINGTON - Today, attorneys asked the Supreme Court to allow seven men who
remain imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay despite being cleared for release
to be released into the United States when there is no other remedy
available. The men, Uighurs from the East Turkestan region of 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 cases brought by CCR and co-counsel, Boumediene v. Bush, in June 2008, and the first time the Obama administration will defend a Guantánamo case before the high court.
Said Sabin Willett, of Bingham McCutchen, lead attorney for the Uighur detainees,
"Today we have asked the Supreme Court to free Uighur
clients who now pass their eighth year in the Guantanamo prison. The
courts and the Defense Department have said they are neither enemies
nor criminals. They fled from communism, and were taken in error.
Companions live in Europe and Bermuda, and yet we imprison them still.
These men are a living rebuke to America's boast to be a freedom-loving
"To the founders of this republic, freedom was a national conviction.
Today neither the President nor the Congress has the courage of that
conviction. We urge the Court to remind us all of our ancient trust,
and at last set these men free."
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
and, more recently, another six were temporarily resettled in Palau.
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 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."
In the wake of Boumediene, 31 of the 39 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, 12 of the 31 detainees found to be
wrongly detained by the courts in the last year remain in detention.
Said CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren, "The
world community is waiting to see if the Court will put the President
and Congress on the right track. If we expect our allies to continue to
help us close down Guantánamo and put an end to this symbol of U.S.
lawlessness in the world, we have to start by taking some
responsibility ourselves and help these innocent men rebuild their
For more information and documents, visit CCR's Kiyemba v. Obama case page.
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.
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.