Order to Free 17 Chinese Muslims Blocked

A three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has blocked the release of 17 Guantanamo detainees onto United States soil.

A lower court had ordered that the men -- ethnic Chinese Muslims -- be released Friday. The men have spent seven years in Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. The government no longer considers the men enemy combatants.

Tonight the Court of Appeals blocked the lower court order and set up a briefing schedule that would require all briefs in the case to be filed by Oct. 16.

The government had filed an emergency motion asking the appeals court to step in, arguing that the order to release the men "directly conflicts with the basic principle that the decision whether to admit an alien into the United States rests exclusively with the president."

The three judges who will consider the case include Karen Henderson and A. Raymond Randolph, who were appointed by George H.W. Bush. The third, Judge Judith Rogers, was appointed by President Clinton.

Tonight, a lawyer for the detainees said, "In the long term, we will prevail."

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