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Appeals from Gitmo detainees, others turned away

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has declined 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.

Eleven other members of the Uighurs, a Turkic Muslim ethnic group from China, 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.

Other denials

Additionally, the court declined Monday to hear one appeal from Mississippi death row inmate Benny Joe Stevens and another from Ralph Nader.

Stevens, 52, was sentenced to death in 1999 in the slaying of four people in Marion County. The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld his conviction and four death sentences in 2001.

Prosecutors say Stevens killed a couple and two children in 1998 in a mobile home in the Foxworth community. Stevens’ ex-wife and their 11-year-old son were among those killed. Stevens’ 16-year-old daughter was wounded but escaped from the mobile home.

The justices also have turned away Ralph Nader’s appeal of a Hawaiian court’s decision keeping him off the state’s presidential ballot in 2004.

Elections officials kept Nader off Hawaii’s 2004 ballot because supporters had failed to submit the required number of signatures. He challenged that decision, saying the election rules made it harder for independent candidates to make it on a ballot than party candidates, but the rules were upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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