A federal judge ruled on Friday that the government must release photographs that depict abuse of detainees by American military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The photos are crucial to the public record,” American Civil Liberties Union Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement. “They’re the best evidence of what took place in the military’s detention centers, and their disclosure would help the public better understand the implications of some of the Bush administration’s policies.”
The government now has two months to appeal the ruling made by the judge, Alvin K. Hellerstein of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, Reuters reported.
The ACLU first filed the lawsuit in 2004 against the Department of Defense, CIA and FBI, asking the government to release the photos along with other documents related to the “treatment and interrogation of detainees” held in U.S. custody.
The administration has argued for years that releasing the photos would endanger U.S. soldiers abroad by fueling anti-American sentiment.
Speaking at the White House in 2009, President Barack Obama announced his opposition to the release of photographs, saying there was little to be learned by making the images public.
Obama said the consequence of releasing them would be to “further inflame anti-American opinion and put our troops in greater danger.”
Related: Obama Moves to Block Release of Detainee Abuse Photos (May 13, 2009)