New Abu Ghraib photos shown on Australian TV News
New Abu Ghraib photos shown on Australian TV

[JURIST] Previously unpublished photographs [SMH slides] and video depicting alleged abuse of prisoners by US personnel at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison [JURIST news archive] were shown on Australian television Wednesday. In an effort to expose "the extent of the horror that occurred at Abu Ghraib," SBS television's Dateline program showed images [program transcript; AAP report] of blood-soaked prisoners who had been tortured or shot and a detainee who seemed to be covered in feces, along with video of a prisoner repeatedly slamming his head into a door and a group of prisoners being forced to masturbate.

The existence of the images was not unknown and they were viewed by members of Congress in private briefings when the original Abu Ghraib photographs were made public in 2004. They are also the subject of litigation in the United States. The American Civil Liberties Union sued [ACLU case backgrounder] under the Freedom of Information Act and in September won a court order [PDF decision; JURIST report] giving them access to the photographs, but the government is currently appealing that decision [SMH report], arguing that their release would further anti-American sentiment. In his decision to allow the ACLU access to the photographs, US District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein wrote that "fear of blackmail is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command."

The original Abu Ghraib photographs led to the jailing of several US soldiers including Charles Graner [JURIST report], who appears in some of the new images, and Lynndie England [JURIST news archive], who warned last year that she knew of "worse things" happening at Iraqi military prison [JURIST report] and that the pictures previously made public did not reflect the extent of the abuse that occurred at the facility. Current US military commanders in Iraq have recently expressed concern that the conditions at Abu Ghraib are helping to fuel the insurgency [NYT report] in Iraq, and are worried that overcrowding at the prison allows detainees to share their experiences fighting the US and the new Iraqi government. AFP has more.