Guantanamo's Uighur detainees ask Supreme Court to free them

The Miami HeraldJune 5, 2009 

Attorneys for 17 Muslims from China locked up inside a prison camp at Guantanamo asked the U.S. Supreme Court Friday to take on the case of the men whom a judge ordered set free eight months ago.

"The historic role of the Judicial Branch is todemand the release of prisoners precisely when the political branches find release inconvenient," the 16-page appeal said.

Ignoring the case of the Uighurs, men from a Muslim minority in China who won a lawsuit in a lower court, would signify "a hobbled judiciary," they argued.

The appeal comes at a time of tension surrounding the case of the Uighurs, 17 men whom China brands terrorists from an Islamic separatist movement in Xinjiang province.

At Guantánamo Monday, several of them staged a brief poster-board protest inside their half-acre fence- and barbed-wire enclosed compound, Camp Iguana, while journalists inspected the lockup.

In self-taught, broken prison-camp English, they asked to be freed, likened democracy to communism and branded the United States a "double Hetler," an apparent reference to the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

The Uighurs are approaching their eighth year in U.S. detention. Pakistani and Afghan allies turned them over to U.S. troops during their 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. They were sent to Guantánamo as suspected al-Qaeda trainees and sympathizers.

Five were cleared by 2006 and sent to Albania because the State Department concluded that China would persecute them in their homeland.

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