WASHINGTON (AP) “” A federal appeals court temporarily blocked on Wednesday a judge’s decision to free 17 Chinese Muslims immediately from the Navy prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, into the United States.
In a one-page order, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued the emergency stay at the request of Bush administration lawyers. The three-judge panel said it would postpone release of the detainees for at least another week to give the government more time to make arguments in the case.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina issued a dramatic order Tuesday to the government to free the detainees by Friday. Urbina said it would be wrong for the Bush administration to continue holding the detainees, from the Uighur ethnic group, since they are no longer considered enemy combatants.
The Bush administration had asked the appeals court to block Urbina’s order no later than Wednesday. The detainees were scheduled to arrive in Washington early Friday and appear in Urbina’s courtroom for release to local Uighur families who have agreed to help them settle into the United States.