UK & World News

  • 10 January 2013, 21:10

Bin Laden Death Images Release Mulled By Court

A US court is considering whether the public has the right to see images of Osama bin Laden's dead body.

The conservative-leaning watchdog Judicial Watch last year filed a Freedom of Information Act request for access to the 52 images of the former al Qaeda leader's remains

They were taken after he was killed in a US special forces raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011.

Some of the images were taken so the CIA could conduct facial recognition analysis to confirm the body's identity, according to court papers.

The government has argued that the release of the photographs or videos could compromise national security.

"They'll be used to inflame tensions. They'll be used to inspire retaliatory attacks," Justice Department lawyer Robert Loeb told the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Riots or other forms of violence could threaten American soldiers as well as civilians in Afghanistan, Mr Loeb said.

President Barack Obama made the same case in an interview with CBS News.

"It's important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence or as a propaganda tool," he said.

"That's not who we are. We don't trot out this stuff as trophies."

Last April, a lower court also chose not to challenge the CIA's assessment of the potential danger that showing the images - including bin Laden's burial at sea - could have for Americans.

Judicial Watch said ahead of Thursday's appeal that the government had not adequately proven there was a national security risk.

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