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New Guantanamo Bay challenge for President Ob -

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Reporter: Oscar McLaren

ELEANOR HALL: In the United States the Obama administration has been reminded of just how difficult
its plan to shut down the Guantanamo bay detention centre will be.

17 people from the Uighur minority in north-west China have been held at the centre since 2002. Now
a United States court has ruled that while their indefinite detention is grossly unfair, it has no
power to order their release.

Oscar McLaren reports.

OSCAR MCLAREN: The latest decision by an appeals court in the United States is being read as a
further blow to hopes of the 17 Chinese Uighurs who've been languishing in Guantanamo Bay for more
than seven years.

Emi MacLean from the Centre for Constitutional Rights in New York who's been involved in the case,
says it's a bitter disappointment.

EMI MACLEAN: These individuals have been told now several times that they have won essentially in
the Supreme Court. They have won the right to be able to litigate their cases. They have won the
right to be able to challenge their detention. They have heard that the US Government has conceded
that they were wrongly detained. They've heard that a court has ordered them released.

All of these things have happened in the courts in the United States and right now what we need for
them, more than anything, is for them to be released.

OSCAR MCLAREN: The Uighurs are a Muslim minority from north-west China. Seventeen of them were
arrested in Afghanistan in late 2001 and taken to Guantanamo Bay.

The United States said the men had been training with a terrorist organisation called the East
Turkistan Islamic Movement.

The Uighurs said they'd simply gone to Afghanistan to escape human rights violations at the hands
of the Chinese Government which has cracked down on separatist activity in its far western reaches.

In 2003 authorities at Guantanamo decided they wouldn't pursue legal action against any of the 17
men but the men couldn't be returned to China and the US Government refused to allow them into the
United States either.

Emi MacLean says the new legal precedent allowing government to indefinitely detain people without
charge is disturbing but she says hopes are now resting with the Obama administration which has the
power to either release the Uighurs into the United States or negotiate their relocation to other
countries.

EMI MACLEAN: You know we've not ended with the litigation but as important as the litigation or
perhaps more important is what President Obama is now going to do and what the international
community is now going to do.

If we in the United States and internationally genuinely believe that people should not be
indefinitely detained without charge, the United States should take in some of these individuals
who need protection and can't be sent to their home countries and other countries should also
contribute to the closure of Guantanamo.

OSCAR MCLAREN: And she says President Obama's promise to close Guantanamo Bay simply won't be
possible unless a solution is found for as many as 60 inmates in a similar position.

EMI MACLEAN: So now there is 250 people who are there and 60 of them are effectively there because
they would be tortured or persecuted if they were returned to their home countries.

OSCAR MCLAREN: Donald Rothwell is professor of law at the Australian National University and says
negotiations with third party states are progressing slowly.

DONALD ROTHWELL: The only one that has definitely been successful at the moment is with Albania who
has agreed to accept a small number of the Uighurs. Apparently Munich, the city of Munich has
agreed to take some of the Uighurs but that still depends upon the position of the German
Government.

OSCAR MCLAREN: Australia has been approached by the United States, but professor Rothwell says
accepting the Uighurs brings diplomatic complications.

DONALD ROTHWELL: Absolutely. One of the issues that exists with accepting the Uighurs is the
reaction of the Chinese Government and clearly there is practice by the part of the Chinese in
which they have expressed serious concern as to whether various other countries would accept the
Uighurs. China as I understand it maintains the position these people are terrorists and in fact
has expressed some interest in prosecuting the Uighurs if they were returned to China.

OSCAR MCLAREN: Nicola McGarrity of the Terrorism and Law Project at the University of New South
Wales says there's a strong case for them to be resettled in the United States.

NICOLA MCGARRITY: The original United States court recognised that there was very little evidence
on which the United States could refuse to release them, that being that the United States relied
solely on the fact that they had received firearms training in Afghanistan. And if that's the basis
on which someone is not going to be allowed into the United States, that they've received firearms
training, I imagine that there is quite a few current residents of the United States who would fail
that test as well.

OSCAR MCLAREN: And she says there are difficult decisions ahead for the Obama administration.

NICOLA MCGARRITY: I think there's going to have to be a decision made in the next six months or the
next year at the most as to what's going to happen to those people who they simply can't find third
countries to take. Unless there is a large amount of money or aid in kind that is offered to third
countries, I don't imagine that these 60 men are going to be able to find homes in countries other
than the United States.

So I think a decision is going to have to be made. A very pragmatic decision is going to have to be
made about what is more important to the Obama administration - the closure of Guantanamo Bay or
the release of these men into the United States.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Nicola McGarrity, the director of the Terrorism and Law Project at the
University of New South Wales, ending that report from Oscar McLaren.