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Uighur Guantanamo detainees seek contempt charge for US defense secretary

[JURIST] Lawyers for five Uighur [JURIST news archive] detainees at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] on Friday moved [motion, PDF; similar motion in related case] to have Defense Secretary Robert Gates [official profile; JURIST news archive] held in contempt after failing to have them freed or transferred. The motions refer to a June 2008 order [JURIST report] from the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit [official website] requiring that the Uighurs be transferred, released, or given a new Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT). The motions state that Gates has conceded that the government will not convene a new CSRT and claims that the difficulty of finding a proper country for transfer is a problem of the government's making. Since there is no dispute that Gates is able to comply with the order, the motions argue, he should be held in contempt. The motions assert that deferring to Gates' status as an officer in the executive branch would render the judicial power "hollow."

US Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters Wednesday that the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] would consider accepting [JURIST report] in the US the 17 Uighur detainees who have been cleared for release. The DOJ has declined to repatriate the Uighurs despite Chinese demands [JURIST report] because they could face torture upon their return. On Monday, Holder and other top officials from the Obama administration met with leaders [JURIST report] from the European Union (EU) [official website] to discuss plans to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay. In February, Sweden's Migration Court granted asylum [judgment, PDF, in Swedish; JURIST report] to a former Uighur Guantanamo detainee. Munich, Germany, home to a sizeable Uighur community, has expressed willingness to welcome the 17 Uighurs [Local report]. In 2006, Albania granted asylum [JURIST report] to five Uighurs after their release from Guantanamo.

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