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US Appeals Court Considers Release of bin Laden Raid Photos

  • VOA News

Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden

A U.S. Court of Appeals has heard arguments for a lawsuit requesting the release of images of terrorist Osama bin Laden's body after he was killed in a U.S. Special Forces raid in May 2011.

The lawyer for the Defense Department and the CIA argues the photos should not be released because they might enrage terrorists and cause a threat to national security. A District Court judge ruled in April of last year that the images could remain secret.

The non-partisan Judicial Watch group is appealing the lawsuit. Its president, Tom Fitton, said what is "unprecedented" about the case is that the Defense Department defines national security as "information that might upset terrorists or foreign populations."

"And, you know from our point of view this can not be the standard," he said. "I mean what other laws if we were to follow them appropriately would upset people abroad? The right to publish matters in the press? The right to publish cartoons? The right to talk about issues?"

In an interview with CBS News after the raid in Pakistan killed the al-Qaida leader, President Barack Obama said the administration decided not to release the photos, in part, because they did not want to show the pictures "as trophies." Fitton said that is political reasoning.

"But that is not what the law is. And he is not the king, and he can not decide to not do things because, he can not decide not to follow the law because it would be inconvenient politically," said Fitton.

A decision on the appeal should be released within a few months.