The Case of the Unwanted Non-Terrorists

Thursday, February 19, 2009
Adel Hakimjan

Seventeen Chinese Muslims are still being held at Guantánamo even though the U.S. government has already declared them innocent of any threat to Americans and a federal judge ordered their release into the continental United States last October. On Wednesday, a federal appeals court voted 2-1 to block their entrance into the U.S. on the grounds that the fact that they were at a weapons training camp in Afghanistan in 2001 excludes them from entry. However, the 17 are members of the Uighur minority, and were apparently training to fight the Chinese Communist government. As such, they actually considered the United States an ally. The U.S. government has tried to find other countries to accept the Uighurs as refugees, but the Chinese government has threatened retaliation against any country that does so. Meanwhile, also on Wednesday, an eighteenth Uighur, Adel Hakimjan, was granted refugee status in Sweden. Hakimjan fled China in 1999, but following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, he was seized by Pakistani farmers and sold for about $5,000 to American authorities, who shipped him to Guantánamo. In 2006, Hakimjan and four other Uighurs were released to Albania. Later he sought asylum in Sweden, the home of his only living relative, his sister.

Court Blocks release Of 17 Uighurs into U.S. (by Del Quentin Wilber and Carrie Johnson, Washington Post)


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