Center for Constitutional Rights & Agence France-Presse – 2005-08-02 00:14:00
Attorneys Demand Immediate Release of Innocent Men Held in Gitmo
Center for Constitutional Rights
In New York, on August 1, 2005, before Judge James Robertson, attorneys for the ethnic Uighurs of China held at the Guantánamo Bay prison facility for over three years argued for the immediate release of their clients Abu Bakker Qassim and A’del Abdu Al-Hakim.
Qassim and Al-Hakim recently met with their attorneys for the first time since their detention. At that meeting they informed their attorneys that a Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) had found that they were not enemy combatants.
The Uighurs were found innocent at CSRT Hearing on March 26, 2005 after the government failed to disclose their findings to the detainees’ attorneys.
The findings of the CSRT had never been disclosed to Qassim and Al-Hakim’s counsel, and it was not until Friday, July 30, 2005, that the government disclosed that the men had been cleared on March 26th of this year. Since then the government has failed to notify their attorneys, families or anyone else of the men’s innocence, instead allowing them to remain in detention for an additional six months.
The hearing before Judge Robertson asked for the immediate release of the two men.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, who is working on this case, has repeatedly called for an independent commission and special prosecutor to investigate the detentions, interrogations and treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo and other U.S. detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. CCR strongly believes such an inquiry should examine the role of military and civilian officials all the way up the chain of command.
US Keeps Innocent Uighurs at Guantanamo
(August 1, 2005) — The US military has kept two ethnic Uighur Muslims from a troubled Chinese region at its Guantanamo ‘war on terror’ detention camp even though they have been found not to be “enemy combatants,” a rights group said.
Lawyers for Abu Bakker Qassim and Adel Abdu al-Hakim went before a federal court in Washington on Monday to seek the release of the pair.
According to the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a New York-based legal activist group, a Guantanamo review panel ruled in March that Qassim and Hakim should not be considered “enemy combatants” who would face military tribunals.
But the CCR said the men’s lawyers were never told about the finding. “It was not until Friday, July 30, 2005 that the government disclosed that the men had been cleared on March 26 this year,” said a statement by the group which has been working on the case of the Uighurs.
“Since (March 26) the government has failed to notify their attorneys, families or anyone else of the men’s innocence, instead allowing them to remain in detention for an additional six months.”
The Uighurs are among a dozen detainees who have been declared no longer to be enemy combatants but who continue to be held at Guantanamo while arrangements are being made for their release, a US defense official said.
“The United States has made it clear that it does not expel, return or extradite individuals to other countries where it believes that it is ‘more likely than not’ that they will be tortured or subject to persecution,” said Lieutenant Commander Alvin Plexico, a Pentagon spokesman.
“This is US policy as well as US law,” he said.
The United States faces a delicate problem over what to do with Uighurs held at Guantanamo in Cuba.
It has said it wants to resettle a handful of them in third countries, amid concern they will be persecuted if returned to China. China has called for them to be sent back.
The State Department said in October last year that some Uighur prisoners “have been determined not to pose a threat any longer to the United States or its allies” and that the Pentagon had approved their release.
China has recently renewed a campaign against Muslim separatists in Xinjiang autonomous region ahead of the 50th anniversary of its annexation.
Turkic-speaking Uighur separatists have been fighting to re-establish an independent state of East Turkestan in Xinjiang. They accuse the ruling Chinese of political, religious and cultural repression.
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