WASHINGTON, (AFP) – A US appeals court has temporarily blocked the release of 17 Chinese Muslim Uighurs from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp as President George W. Bush’s administration scrambles to appeal it.
Under a lower court order, the men were to be brought to Washington as soon as Friday, but a three-judge panel at the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia halted the process "pending further order of the court."
"The purpose of this administrative stay is to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the merits of the motion for stay pending appeal and should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits of that motion," read an order issued Wednesday.
A US federal judge Tuesday had ordered the group to be released in the United States in a major blow to the US administration, which swiftly said it planned to appeal.
Judge Ricardo Urbina ordered the 17 men, held at Guantanamo for nearly seven years, brought before him in Washington on Friday to be introduced to some Uighur families who would take them in.
It was the first time a court had ordered that "war on terror" prisoners detained at the US base should be released onto US soil. Read More..