[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit [official website] heard oral arguments Monday on whether 17 Uighur detainees at Guantanamo Bay [Kiyemba v. Bush backgrounder and materials] can be released into the US. In early October, a judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] ordered the release of the detainees [opinion and order, PDF; JURIST report], writing that the Constitution prohibits detention without cause and that the individual right to freedom outweighs the other governmental branches' right to deny entry to aliens. Judges for the DC circuit court stayed the order [order, PDF; JURIST report] later that month pending appeal. The government argued [appeal brief, PDF] Monday that the exclusion of aliens from the country is not a judicial government function and that the detainees have no statutory or constitutional right to enter the US, while lawyers for the detainees argued [response brief, PDF] that the executive branch cannot exclude the detainees and that US immigration law does not prevent release. SCOTUSblog has more.
The US government has determined that the Uighurs are not unlawful enemy combatants [10 U.S.C. § 948a text; JURIST news archive], but it has linked them with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) [CFR backgrounder], a militant group that calls for separation from China and has been a US-designated terrorist group since 2002. China has renewed its demand [JURIST report] for the Uighurs to be repatriated, and in October, Chinese authorities called on other nations [Guardian report] to arrest and extradite eight alleged ETIM members whom they suspected of plotting to attack the Olympic Games this past summer in Beijing.