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    Civil Rights Group Calls for Open Access to Prisoners Abuse Pictures

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    The American Civil Liberties Union said that the US government is unlawfully withholding photographs documenting the abuse of detainees in US prisons overseas.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The United States government is unlawfully withholding photographs documenting the abuse of detainees in US prisons overseas, civil rights group the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a court letter.

    “The [US] government failed to comply with the legal requirements of the PNSDA [Protected National Security Documents Act] in 2012 and, thus, the [Defense] Secretary has not lawfully certified the subject photographs for withholding,” ACLU’s letter sent on Friday said.

    ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Defense (DoD) in 2003, demanding release of records that show abuse of prisoners in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    In 2009 the US Congress gave the Defense Secretary the authority not to release abuse pictures for three years, if their disclosure would threaten national security.

    In August 2014 US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled that the Defense Secretary has to review photos on a case by case basis and give reasons for keeping each secret. He later stated that DoD should suggest ways to comply with the ruling, otherwise the Defense Secretary should officially refuse to certify photos individually, ACLU said.

    On Wednesday, the government sent a letter to the court, asking to clarify what the government must do to comply with the August ruling, trying, according to ACLU, delay the process.

    “Plaintiffs respectfully request that the Court reject the government’s unnecessary and, in light of the Court’s prior rulings, specious request,” ACLU’s letter said.

    According to the human rights organization Amnesty International, during 2003 invasion of Iraq, US Army and Central Intelligence Agency personnel detained, tortured and ill-treated people without charging them. There are about 2,000 photos relating to the abuse of prisoners, ACLU says.

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    Tags:
    prisoners, abuses, torture, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), United States
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