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Chinese Muslims Ordered Released From Guantanamo

Uighurs to Albania in 2006, but no other country wants to risk offending China by accepting the others.

Calls to the Chinese Embassy media office were not answered.

Over the years, more than 500 detainees have left Guantanamo Bay for their home countries, an unknown number of whom were ultimately set free. Only one captive, Yaser Esam Hamdi, a Saudi, was moved from Guantanamo Bay to the United States, after authorities determined he held U.S. citizenship. He was eventually deported to Saudi Arabia and relinquished his U.S. citizenship.

Although the White House warned that the ruling could be used to secure other detainees' release into the United States, legal experts have said that is unlikely because the Uighurs' circumstances are unique.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), who has been working for the Uighurs' release with Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), said yesterday that Urbina "made the morally right decision.

"We should offer the Uighurs an apology," he said.

About 400 Uighur families live in the Washington area, mostly in Northern Virginia. There are smaller Uighur concentrations in the District and the Maryland suburbs.

"The American legal system has given us justice," said Ilshat Hassan, 46, a Uighur who works for a large consulting firm and will take one of the detainees into his McLean home.

An appeals court determined in June that one of the Uighurs, Huzaifa Parhat, was not an enemy combatant and must be released, transferred or given a new military hearing because evidence used to justify his detention was flimsy and unreliable.

The three-judge panel found that "it is undisputed that he is not a member of al-Qaeda or the Taliban, and that he has never participated in any hostile action against the United States or its allies." In the months after the ruling, the government determined that it would not treat the Uighurs at Guantanamo Bay as enemy combatants.

Yesterday's hearing was required under a Supreme Court ruling in June that the detainees had the right to challenge their detention in federal courts. Scores of other detainees have filed to do so.

Because the government did not produce evidence to justify the Uighurs' confinement, Urbina faced two options: release them into the United States or allow them to remain confined without cause.

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