Federal appeals court unanimously rules bin Laden photos can remain secret

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the CIA does not have to release photos of Osama bin Laden’s corpse to the public.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the CIA’s concerns the images could incite violence and harm national security were sufficient to keep the bin Laden photos classified.

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The appellate court’s unanimous ruling rejected a lawsuit from Judicial Watch, the conservative watchdog group that had sued for the photos to be released.

“The CIA’s declarations give reason to believe that releasing images of American military personnel burying the founder and leader of al Qaeda could cause exceptionally grave harm,” the court wrote in its decision.

“It is undisputed that the government is withholding the images not to shield wrongdoing or avoid embarrassment, but rather to prevent the killing of Americans and violence against American interests.”

Judicial Watch had filed a Freedom of Information Act Request for 52 photos of bin Laden after he was killed by Navy SEALs in 2011.

The CIA refused, arguing that the photos were classified top secret.

Judicial Watch then filed suit, but the suit was dismissed in District Court, and the appeals court upheld the lower court’s ruling.