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Court Rejects Government's Attempt to Stall Cases of Detainees Cleared to Be Released From Guantanamo

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D.C. District Court Decision Allows Cases to Progress

CONTACT: press@ccrjustice.org

January 2, 2009, New York, NY - On December 17, 2008, the government attempted to halt the cases of approximately 20 detainees the Defense Department had cleared for transfer out of Guantanamo. This afternoon, the court rejected the government's motion to stay the cases of these detainees. The ruling, from Judge Thomas Hogan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, will allow lawyers for the detainees to go forward with attempting to seek release from detention for these individuals.

The government had argued in its motion that these men had already been "afforded meaningful relief" because the government had agreed that they should be transferred out of Guantanamo, even though they remain detained. As recognized by the Supreme Court in Boumediene and by District Court Judge Ricardo Urbina in a case involving the 17 Uighurs remaining at Guantánamo, a core facet of the fundamental right of habeas is the ability of a federal court to order release in cases of unlawful detention.

"An administrative order that says that they are free to go is not relief after seven years of imprisonment. These men need to be released from prison, and this relief is long overdue," said Emi MacLean, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights.  

The government had attempted to stay some cases for detainees who cannot be sent to their home countries because of a fear of torture or persecution or because they are stateless and do not have countries to go to. There are approximately 50-60 detainees at Guantánamo who cannot be sent to their home countries for fear of torture or persecution or because of statelessness.  These include the 17 Uighurs from China as well as men from Azerbaijan, Algeria, Libya, Palestine, Russia, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan.

For more information, please visit www.ccrjustice.org.  More information regarding the men who cannot be transferred from Guantánamo to their home countries - including in-depth profiles and frequently asked questions - can be found at CCR's Guantanamo refugee page.

CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo for the last six years - sending the first ever habeas attorney to the base and sending the first attorney to meet with a former CIA "ghost detainee." CCR has been responsible for organizing and coordinating more than 500 pro bono lawyers across the country in order to represent the men at Guantanamo, ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal representation. CCR represented the detainees with co-counsel in the most recent argument before the Supreme Court on December 5, 2007.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.