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Federal judge may call Chinese Gitmo detainees to appear before him

[JURIST] US District Judge James Robertson [official profile] said Monday that he will consider allowing two Chinese Uighur Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees to appear in federal court to challenge their ongoing confinement. The two men have been determined not to be enemy combatants, but have not yet been released from US custody because US officials are unwilling to return the men to China where they could face torture, and authorities have been unsuccessful in finding a country willing to provide refuge to the men. The Muslim Uighur minority is trying to establish a separate homeland in the Xinjiang province of China and Chinese authorities have renewed their crackdown on against Uighur separatists. Robertson is considering a motion [PDF text] to grant the men a provisional parole that would allow them to live in the US while their fate is being decided. During Monday's hearing, Robertson expressed frustration with the government's ability to move forward in the case and said that he is considering three options: ordering the men to appear before him in a hearing on their immediate release, ordering the government to release the men, or denying the motion allowing the case to go before a federal appeals court. If Robertson were to order the detainees to appear in court, it would mark the first time a Guantanamo detainee would travel to the US to appear before a federal judge. US lawyers expressed concern at the idea, saying that this would allow the detainees to apply for asylum as soon as they arrive on US soil. The Center for Constitutional Rights has background on the case. The Washington Post has more.

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