The federal government must release 20 more pictures of U.S. soldiers and detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan to satisfy the requests of a civil rights group seeking to expose evidence of abuse, a judge ordered Friday.
U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein, who reviewed the photographs Thursday, said identifying facial features must be removed from the pictures before they are released to the American Civil Liberties Union, which had filed a lawsuit seeking visual evidence of abuse.
The color photographs were taken by individuals serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the judge said in a two-page order. He said the government was not required to turn over another seven photographs and he reserved judgment as to two others.
A phone message seeking comment from a government spokeswoman was not immediately returned.
ACLU attorney Amrit Singh called the ruling "a victory for the public's right to know the full truth about the treatment of detainees held in United States custody abroad."
Pictures not from Abu Ghraib
The new images apparently were not taken at Abu Ghraib, the Iraqi prison where soldiers photographed themselves physically abusing and sexually humiliating inmates. The pictures drew international outrage.
The organization learned of the new images when the Army turned over documents late last year in response to an ACLU lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
Hellerstein previously ordered the release of the Abu Ghraib pictures. The government dropped its appeal after it became apparent that nearly all the pictures were already public.
The government has opposed the release of pictures of abuse, saying they would incite violence against U.S. troops in Iraq and provoke terrorists.
When the judge ordered the Abu Ghraib pictures released, he said terrorists "do not need pretexts for their barbarism."