A U.S. federal appeals court has blocked the immediate release of 17 Chinese Muslims from the Guantanamo Bay military prison.
The court ruled two to one Monday that the men must stay behind bars until at least November 24, when the court hears the Bush administration's appeal of a judge's order to release them.
The two judges, A. Raymond Randolph and Karen Henderson, who ruled in favor of the government gave no comment. But dissenting judge Judith Rogers said the court does have the authority to order release of the detainees.
A federal judge in June ordered the men freed, saying the government does not have the right to keep them in detention since it has decided they are no longer enemy combatants. The men have been held at Guantanamo for seven years.
The government argues that they should remain imprisoned until U.S authorities find new homes for them. It also says the men received weapons training at a terrorist camp.
Washington has balked at China's demand that the 17 be sent back home, fearing they would be tortured if returned to China.
The Chinese Muslims are members of the Uighur minority in far-western China's Xinjiang region. Beijing has cracked down on those in the region it calls violent separatists.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.