A U.S. federal judge ruled Friday the government must release photographs showing how detainees were treated at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and other sites.
Judge Alvin Hellerstein's ruling takes effect in two months, giving the government time to decide if it will appeal the decision.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in 2004 seeking the release of the pictures. The ACLU has said the photographs are "manifestly important to an ongoing national debate about governmental accountability for the abuse of prisoners."
Hellerstein ruled in August the government had failed to explain why releasing the images would endanger U.S. forces and government personnel abroad. He said any photographs that are released would be redacted to protect the identities of the people.
In 2004, photographs depicting abuse at Abu Ghraib emerged, prompting a public debate about whether the U.S. had tortured prisoners and the role of torture in extracting information from prisoners.
Congress passed a law in 2009 during the ongoing lawsuit that allowed the photographs to be kept secret if the Defense Secretary certified that releasing them would endanger U.S. citizens.
Hellerstein's latest ruling, handed down in New York, rejects that finding and says the government must release the photographs.