Washington: Even almost two years after the world`s most wanted terrorist was slain by American special forces, President Barack Obama`s administration is refusing to release photos of Osama bin Laden`s dead body, warning that this would risk "grave damage" to national security.
Though media outlets worldwide had made a clamour for 52 photographs taken during `Operation Geronimo`, the Obama administration has stoutly resisted warning that the images could excite an angry, even violent reaction against Americans.
But now, Judicial Watch group on Thursday said that the government has "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`".
The conservative legal group, argued before a three-judge appeals panel that the Freedom of Information Act requires the government to release the pictures or it be made to explain why the release of photographs could damage national security, CNN reported.
The al Qaeda chief was slain on May 2, 2011 in a raid on his Pakistani hideout in Abbottabad by US Navy Seals, who took pictures of their target to confirm the success of their mission.
Earlier attempts to get the photos released were thrown out by a court last year, which accepted the administration`s contention that their publication could harm national security.
The watch-group contended before the court that bin Laden was "the mastermind of 9/11" and "the most wanted terrorist in the world".
In a statement released before the hearing, the channel said that the Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton argued "Obama is asking the courts to rewrite the Freedom of Information Act to allow the administration to withhold documents simply because their disclosure may cause controversy".
Judicial Watch said its appeal makes clear that the group is not seeking information about equipment or techniques used in the raid.
"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."
The Federal Appeals Court reserved the judgement. But, it was not known when it will issue its ruling.