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BREAKING NEWS ~ Federal judge orders release of Abu Ghraib photos

[JURIST] US District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein has ordered the release of photographs and videotapes of detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison [JURIST news archive], despite government arguments that the images could damage America's image in Iraq and Afghanistan. The ruling comes in an ACLU lawsuit [ACLU case backgrounder] seeking information on the treatment of detainees in US custody and the transfer of prisoners to countries known to use torture. During arguments, Hellerstein expressed hesitation over ordering the photos' release [JURIST report], but in his ruling [PDF text] Thursday, Hellerstein wrote that "fear of blackmail is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command." The new photos and video will not be released immediately, however; at the very end of his ruling Hellerstein stayed his own order 20 days to allow either side to appeal. AP has more.

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