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Court Blocks Release of Uighur Detainees Into U.S.

Human rights advocates and attorneys for detainees said yesterday's ruling will weaken the efforts of other detainees seeking freedom. Absent the power to order the release of detainees into the United States, the Supreme Court's decision in June granting them the right to challenge their confinements before independent judges "is now meaningless," said Susan Baker Manning, an attorney for the Uighurs. "You win and still can't get out," she said.

The Uighurs are natives of northwestern China who have been demanding an independent homeland. The 17 Uighurs were picked up in Pakistan in early 2002 and accused of training at military camps in Afghanistan sponsored by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, a group that the Bush administration designated a terrorist organization after the men were captured.

They have repeatedly told military officials they are not enemies of the United States. The Justice Department did not produce any evidence to justify their confinement. Government lawyers argued that the president had the power to detain the men until they could be safely transferred to another country.

In ordering their release into the United States, Urbina said in October that diplomatic resettlement efforts had stalled and that the Constitution "prohibits indefinite detention without cause."

P. Sabin Willett, an attorney for the Uighurs, said he and other lawyers have been pressing the Obama administration to let the Uighurs into the country.

An administration official declined to comment on the decision, saying only that Obama "has requested a review of all of these cases, and we're not going to prejudge the outcome of the review and comment on individual cases."

Staff researcher Julie Tate and staff writer Anne E. Kornblut contributed to this report.

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