A federal judge in New York has ordered the U.S. government to release more photographs of detainees being abused at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

In Thursday's ruling, Judge Alvin Hellerstein rejected the government's argument that the pictures would incite terrorists and provoke violence against U.S. troops.

He said terrorists do not need a pretext for their barbarism.

The decision calls for the release of 74 photographs and three videotapes.  The government has 20 days to appeal.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which filed a lawsuit seeking the release of the materials, hailed the decision as a step toward ensuring government leaders are held accountable for abuses that happened on their watch.

Several U.S. soldiers have been convicted and sent to prison for abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib, in the scandal that erupted last year after some photographs of their actions there were made public.

Some information for this story provided by AP and AFP.