Page last updated at 11:37 GMT, Sunday, 15 November 2009

Gates blocks abuse photos release

Photo taken at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, Iraq (Courtesy of Guy L. Womack)
Photos showing prisoner abuse in Iraq caused a major scandal in 2004

The US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has blocked the publication of further images of US soldiers abusing foreign detainees.

The US administration filed a request with the Supreme Court late on Friday preventing the release of the photos.

The order refers to some 40 images, including some of prisoners being abused in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Last month, Congress gave Mr Gates new powers to prevent their release under a law signed by the US president.

A Pentagon spokesman said that the order covers images related to investigations into allegations of abuse carried out outside the US between 11 September 2001 and 22 January 2009.


He suggested that releasing the pictures would put US soldiers at risk.

"Public disclosure of these photographs would endanger citizens of the US, members of the US armed forces, or employees of the US government deployed outside the US," Mr Gates said in the order filed with the court.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had sued for the release of 21 of the images.

The group says it will continue to press for the release of the images, arguing they represent "an important part of the historical record".

"They are critical to the ongoing national conversation about accountability for torture," ACLU's director Jameel Jaffer said.

Initially, Mr Obama had suggested that he would not attempt to block the release of the photographs but he reversed this decision in May.

He said then that the release of such images would be "of no benefit" and might inflame opinion against the US.

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