Washington: Defence Secretary Robert Gates has blocked the public release of 44 pictures of foreign detainees abused by their US captors, saying their release would endanger American soldiers.
The Obama administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court late Friday saying that Gates has invoked new powers blocking the release of the photos.
The American Civil Liberties Union had sued for the release of 21 colour photographs showing prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq being abused by Americans. Federal courts had rejected the government`s arguments to block their release, so Congress gave Gates new powers to keep them private under a law signed by President Barack Obama last month.
Gates` order covers the 21 pictures sought by the ACLU, plus 23 additional ones. The new powers were included in a budget bill for the Homeland Security Department.
“Public disclosure of these photographs would endanger citizens of the United States, members of the United States armed forces, or employees of the United States government deployed outside the United States,`` Gates said in his order blocking release of the photos.