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Appeals panel hears bin Laden photos case

Jan. 10, 2013 at 10:48 AM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- A U.S. appeals court in Washington has agreed to hear argument on whether classified pictures of Osama bin Laden's body should be released.

The argument was scheduled for Thursday.

Bin Laden, who founded the terror group al-Qaida and inspired the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York City and at the Pentagon, was killed in a raid in Pakistan by U.S. SEALs in May 2010.

A federal judge initially ruled that the images could remain secret.

The government argues for an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act, and says the photos must be kept secret for national security, The Washington Post reported. Defense and intelligence officials expressed concern in court documents that release of the images would incite violence against U.S. citizens.

But Judicial Watch in Washington, which filed suit to obtain the images, said in a statement it is not seeking information about equipment or techniques used in the raid.

In the suit, the group argues the government and officials "have failed to provide any evidence that all 52 images, including those depicting bin Laden's burial at sea, pertain to 'foreign activities of the United States.' Defendants also have failed to provide any evidence that images depicting the burial at sea actually pertain to 'intelligence activities.' Nor have they demonstrated that the release of images of a somber, dignified burial at sea reasonably could be expected to cause identifiable or describable exceptionally grave damage to national security."

Judicial Watch staff attorney Michael Bekesha will argue the case.

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