WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court refused yesterday to take up an appeal from former Guantanamo Bay detainees who say they were tortured and denied religious rights.

The justices rejected the appeal without comment in the case of Rasul v. Myers. Four British men say they were beaten, shackled in painful stress positions, and threatened by dogs while they were at the U.S. naval base in Cuba from 2002 to 2004.

They also say they were harassed while practicing their religion, including forced shaving of their beards, banning or interrupting their prayers, denying them copies of the Quran and prayer mats, and throwing a copy of the Quran in a toilet.

The Obama administration opposed high court review of the case, adhering to its practice of defending Bush administration officials against allegations from onetime suspected terrorists or Taliban allies.

The defendants in the case included top Bush military officials such as former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and retired Gen. Richard Myers, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia twice rejected the defendants' claims that the military officials violated a federal law intended to ensure unburdened religious practice and ordered or condoned their mistreatment.

The four plaintiffs - Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed, and Jamal Al-Harith - were released in 2004.

Rasul, Iqbal, and Ahmed say they traveled to Afghanistan from Pakistan to provide humanitarian relief the month after the Sept. 11 attacks. Harith says he traveled to Pakistan the same month to attend a religious retreat.

Court Takes Case On Text Messages

The Supreme Court said yesterday that it would decide how much privacy workers have when they send text messages from company accounts.

The justices will review

a federal appeals court ruling that sided with Ontario, Calif., police officers who said the department improperly snooped on their electronic exchanges. The appeals court had also faulted the text-

messaging service for turning over transcripts of the messages without the officers' consent.

The justices will hear arguments in the spring in the city's case, City of Ontario v. Quon.

Also yesterday, the court turned away a new challenge to a 2005 law that gives gun-makers immunity from lawsuits by shooting victims.

- Associated Press