A U.S. appeals court in Washington has overturned a ruling that would have released a group of Chinese Muslims from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba into the United States.
The appeals court ruled Wednesday that only the executive branch, not the courts, can decide who can enter the United States.
The 17 ethnic Uighurs were cleared for release from Guantanamo as early as 2003, but the U.S. would not send them home to China for fear they will be tortured.
The government has been unable to find a third country to accept them, so they continue to be held without charge at Guantanamo.
In October, a federal judge ruled the men should be transferred to U.S. soil since Washington does not consider them "enemy combatants."
The administration of then-U.S. President George W. Bush argued the judge did not have the authority to release them.
China's Foreign Ministry says the Uighurs belong to the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, a separatist organization considered a terrorist group by China, the U.S. and the United Nations.
China renewed calls for repatriating the Uighurs after U.S. President Barack Obama announced his plans to close the Guantanamo detention center. Beijing has warned other countries not to accept them.
In 2006, the U.S. released five ethnic Uighurs from Guantanamo, sending them to Albania, which was the only country that would take them.
In Sweden Wednesday, an immigration court granted asylum to one of those men. The man, Adil Hakimjan, had applied for asylum in Sweden because his sister lives there.
The court ruled against a decision by the Swedish Migration Board, which denied the man's request because he had already been granted asylum in Albania. The court determined he had been "forced" to apply there.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.