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High court nixes new appeals from Gitmo detainees

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Supreme Court has turned away appeals from foreigners seeking their release after nine years of detention at Guantanamo Bay.

The court on Monday rejected three separate claims asking the justices to review rulings against the detainees by the federal appeals court in Washington.

In 2008, the high court ruled that the Guantanamo detainees have a constitutional right to ask a federal civilian judge to review their cases and suggested that a judge could order their release.

But in a series of cases since, the D.C. Circuit has limited the authority of federal district judges and made it harder for the detainees to challenge their continued confinement.

The appeals that the court turned down Monday came from: Ghaleb Nassar Al Bihani, a Yemeni who served as a cook for Taliban forces and said he never fired a shot in battle; Fawzi al-Odah, a Kuwaiti who says he was an Islamic studies teacher, not part of terrorist forces; and Adham Mohammed Al Awad of Yemen, who lost part of his right leg in an air raid in Afghanistan but denied being an al-Qaida fighter.

The justices did not act on a separate appeal filed by five Chinese Muslims, who U.S. authorities agree should no longer be held.

They had previously declined an offer to be resettled in the tiny Pacific nation of Palau, where six other Chinese Muslims, or Uighurs, have gone to live. It is not clear why the five refused to go to Palau. They want the court to consider the question of whether a judge can order detainees released into the United States.

Eleven other members of the Turkic Muslim ethnic group from China’s west have left Guantanamo for Albania, Bermuda and Switzerland.

The U.S. has agreed for years that the Uighurs are not enemy combatants. China wants the Uighurs sent home, but they argue — and the administration agrees — that they could be tortured if they are sent to China.

The U.S. has undertaken extensive diplomatic efforts, aggressively opposed by China, to find the Uighurs a home.