(CN) - The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the appeal of seven Chinese Muslim detainees at Guantanamo Bay, saying the lower courts must decide if five of the Uighur detainees can be released in the United States after they rejected offers to resettle in other countries.
Switzerland offered to take two of the detainees, but the remaining five refused resettlement and are still being held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay. The seven prisoners from the largely Muslim Uighur region of western China have been determined to pose no terrorist threat, so the justices in October said they would decide if a federal judge in Washington has the power to release them in the United States.
But other countries have since agreed to take the prisoners, who allegedly face torture or execution if returned to China.
"This change in the underlying facts may affect the legal issues presented here," the justices wrote. "No court has yet ruled in this case in light of the new facts, and we decline to be the first to do so."
The high court instructed the D.C. Circuit to decide "what further proceedings in that court or in the District Court are necessary and appropriate for the full and prompt disposition of the case in light of the new developments."
The case raises the question of whether a federal court can order the release of Guantanamo detainees "where the Executive detention is indefinite and without authorization in law, and release into the continental United States is the only possible effective remedy."
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