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Chinese Muslims stay stranded at Guantánamo

Federal appeals court reverses an order that the 17 men be released into the US.

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Seventeen Chinese Muslims being held at the Guantánamo prison camp for suspected terrorists have lost a bid to live temporarily in the United States pending their resettlement in a third country.

In a much-anticipated ruling, a federal appeals court in Washington has reversed a judge's order that the 17 members of the Uighur ethnic group be brought to the US to stay until the new Obama administration is able to find a country willing to accept them.

The decision, announced Wednesday in Washington, leaves the men in a Catch-22. Although a judge ordered them released months ago, they remain detainees at Guantánamo.

The men have been held at the detention camp for nearly seven years despite an apparent lack of evidence of involvement in terrorism. They were sold to the US military by bounty hunters, and a federal judge in Washington concluded they are not dangerous.

In its ruling Wednesday, the appeals court said that US District Judge Ricardo Urbina exceeded his authority when he ordered the government to bring the Uighurs to the US.

"What law authorized the district court to order the government to bring petitioners to the United States and release them here," asked Judge Arthur Randolph, writing for the court.

It is up to Congress and the executive branch to determine immigration policy, not the courts, Judge Randolph said.

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