Department of Justice SealDepartment of Justice
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888

Statement of Brian Roehrkasse, Director of Public Affairs, on Today’s District Court Decision Ordering Release of the Uighurs Detained at Guantanamo Bay

“Today, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered that 17 Uighurs detained at Guantanamo Bay— individuals who have admitted to receiving weapons training at camps in Afghanistan— be released into the United States.  Today’s ruling presents serious national security and separation of powers concerns and raises unprecedented legal issues.

“The government advised the court in its submissions that these Uighurs were captured near Tora Bora by the United States and its allies following military operations against al Qaeda and the Taliban, that the Uighurs were receiving weapons training in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and that, although the United States no longer treats these Uighurs as ‘enemy combatants’ of the United States and has been seeking to transfer them out of Guantanamo Bay and to appropriate foreign countries willing to accept them, the government does not believe that it is appropriate to have these foreign nationals removed from government custody and released into the United States.

 “Following today’s ruling, the government moved to stay the decision to enable the government to consider its appeal options and to consider how such a release might be effected.  The court denied the motion, and ordered the government to bring the 17 Uighurs from Guantanamo Bay to the court in Washington, D.C., by Friday, October 10.  The court also set a hearing for Thursday, October 16, to determine the conditions of release and ordered that an official of the Department of Homeland Security be present.  During the time between the presentment of the Uighurs on October 10 and the hearing on October 16, the court ordered that the government have no supervision or oversight of the released individuals.

 “In response to today’s ruling, we are filing an emergency motion for stay pending appeal tonight with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.”