Page last updated at 18:04 GMT, Monday, 1 March 2010

US court dismisses Uighur Guantanamo detainees case

Prisoners at Guantamo Bay - 28 October 2009
The US is still holding about 200 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay

The US Supreme Court has said it will not consider an appeal by seven Chinese Muslims held at Guantanamo Bay, saying the facts of the case have changed.

The case would have had implications over whether US judges could order Guantanamo detainees to be freed in the US if no other country will take them.

The seven men were among a group of Uighurs captured in Afghanistan in 2001 and have all been cleared of charges.

Switzerland has offered to resettle two, the Pacific island of Palau five.

The court has sent the case back to the federal appeals court in Washington to be looked at again. The lower court had previously ruled that US judges lacked the power to release detainees on US soil.

The Supreme Court had been due to hear the case on 23 March, but said the fact all the inmates were being offered resettlement in a foreign country affected the legal issues before the court.

Persecution fears

US President Barack Obama has been trying to close the Cuba-based prison, but there are still about 200 detainees there.

Switzerland had said it would accept two Chinese Muslim brothers. The other five Uighurs had previously been invited to resettle in the Pacific island nation of Palau and another unidentified country.

China wants the Uighurs sent home, but the US has refused China's demands to repatriate them for fear of persecution.

The Uighurs are a mainly Muslim, Turkic-speaking minority based in western China's Xinjiang region.

Switzerland has taken one other former Guantanamo inmate, an Uzbek man.

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