Supreme Court Urged To Deny Appeal On Torture Photo Case

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Robyn Shepherd, (212) 519-5789 or 549-2666; media@aclu.org

Supreme Court Urged To Deny Appeal On Torture Photo Case

Release Of Photos Of Detainee Abuse Critical To Accountability, Says ACLU

NEW YORK - The
Supreme Court should deny the government's request for a review of a
lower court's decision ordering the government to release photos
depicting widespread abuse of detainees overseas, according to a formal
opposition filed today by the American Civil Liberties Union. In April,
the Second Circuit Court of Appeals had directed the government to turn
over the photos in an ACLU Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit,
and the Obama administration has asked the Supreme Court to review and
reverse that decision.

"These photos may be profoundly
disturbing, but they are a crucial part of the historical record and
the appeals court was right to find that they should be released," said
Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. "It's
disappointing that the Obama administration, which in other contexts
has recognized the close connection between transparency and
accountability, is continuing to argue that the photos should be
suppressed."

The ACLU's opposition is supported
by two friend-of–the-court briefs – one filed by Human Rights Watch,
the International Center for Transitional Justice and Amnesty
International and another filed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom
of the Press and 16 media organizations.

The government is challenging the
release of photos of abuse by U.S. personnel at detention facilities
throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. The Justice Department initially
agreed to release the photos shortly after the change of
administrations, but the Obama administration has since changed its
position, claiming the photos should not be released.

"The government should not be
allowed to suppress evidence of human rights abuses based on
speculative concerns over its potential use as propaganda," said Alex
Abdo, a Legal Fellow with the ACLU National Security Project.
"Releasing these photographs will ultimately help ensure that such
abuses are never again repeated."

The attorneys on the case are
Jaffer, Steven R. Shapiro, Amrit Singh, Judy Rabinovitz and Lucas
Guttentag of the ACLU; Arthur Eisenberg and Beth Haroules of the New
York Civil Liberties Union; and Lawrence S. Lustberg and Jennifer B.
Condon of Gibbons, P.C.

The opposition brief filed today can be viewed at: www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/40939lgl20090908.html

The amicus brief filed by Human
Rights Watch, the International Center for Transitional Justice and
Amnesty International can be viewed at: www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/40938lgl20090908.html

The amicus brief filed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press can be viewed at: www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/40951lgl20090908.html

More information about the ACLU's
FOIA lawsuit, which has resulted in the release of more than 100,000
government documents to date, can be found online at: www.aclu.org/torturefoia

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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