Applause erupted in a packed courtroom today after Judge Ricardo Urbina ordered the government to bring 17 Chinese Muslims held at Guantanamo for the past seven years into his courtroom at 10am Friday. The Uighur detainees, whom the government concedes are not enemy combatants, have no country willing to take them in, and return to China would likely mean imprisonment or worse.
Judge further ordered that the Uighurs are not to be questioned or detained by immigration officials. “Nothing will happen to these people,” he said.
The government is likely to seek a stay of the order from the Court of Appeals.
Washington Post story is here.
At a second hearing this week resulting from the Supreme Court’s recent decision allowing Guantanamo Bay detainees to have their cases heard in civilian courts U.S. District Judge Richard Leon emphatically expressed his intent to move quickly. “The Supreme Court has spoken. They want this done. By God, we’ll get this done”.
Reuters story here.
The ceremonial courtroom in Washington’s U.S. District Court was filled to capacity with more than 120 lawyers representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay, a dozen government lawyers, and various clerks, reporters and spectators. Another couple dozen lawyers for the detainees listened to the proceeding on conference call.
At the conclusion of the hearing Judge Hogan remarked: “The government has to set aside
every other case pending before them and get these cases moving
first….People in all levels of government should understand that.”
AP story here.
The U.S. Court of Military Commission Review held its first hearing yesterday in a borrowed courtroom a half block from the White House.
Back in June two military judges at Guantanamo ruled that the detainees brought before them could not be tried by the new Military Commissions, created by Congress and the White House after the Supreme Court rejected the previous Commissions, because they had not been properly declared unlawful enemy combatants. At the time the government filed an appeal there was no court, just a mailing address in Virginia.
Meanwhile all war crime cases at Gitmo are on hold because none of the more than 550 status review hearings determined that the detainees were “unlawful”.
AP story is here.
David Hicks, a 30 year-old Australian who has been detained at Guantanamo since 2002, last night pleaded guilty to one count of material support for terrorism.
The drawing is from his first appearance before the military commissions in August 2004. Hicks, seated, is flanked by his attorneys, military – Maj. Michael D. Mori with his hand on Hicks’ shoulder, and civilian. Hicks’ parents are in the left foreground.
Washington Post story here.