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Chinese Muslims Ordered Released From Guantanamo
The judge's ruling came somewhat as a surprise because many expected him to hear legal arguments and testimony yesterday. But it was clear from the beginning that he had made a decision.
When legal arguments were completed, Urbina sat quietly and then began issuing his order. "After detaining 17 Uighurs . . . for almost seven years free from judicial oversight, the moment has arrived to shine the light of constitutionality," he said.
The judge then rejected the Justice Department's arguments one by one, noting that the government's efforts to resettle the men have been unsuccessful and that there was "no foreseeable date by which they may succeed."
He also noted that the government has not charged the men with crimes and that it has not produced evidence justifying their detentions. "The unilateral, carte blanche authority the political branches purportedly wield over the Uighurs is not in keeping with our system" of government, he said.
Later, Urbina chastised Justice Department lawyer John O'Quinn for suggesting that immigration authorities might be compelled to arrest the Uighurs on U.S. soil because of their alleged ties to the terrorist organization.
"I would not take that kindly," Urbina said. He ordered immigration officials to stay away from the Uighurs until a follow-up hearing on Oct. 16 at which he will hear testimony from the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security about how to monitor them.
Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.