United States - Obama opposes release of torture photos

    MONTREAL, May 14 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders expressed
disappointment today that President Barack Obama intends to try to block the
court-ordered release of photos depicting the abuse of prisoners by US
military personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    "Given the administration's pledge last month not to fight the court
ruling, as well as President Obama's emphasis on promoting transparency and
open government when he took office, the decision is very disappointing"
stated the international press freedom organization.
    In a Freedom Of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU), a federal appeal court panel concluded that it was
insufficient to claim the documents would endanger US troops and coalition
forces, and ordered the Defense Department to release the photographs by May
28th 2009.
    In April, the Obama administration told a judge it would not oppose an
order to release the photos in response to the ACLU's lawsuit. However,
President Obama took back his promise on Wednesday and claimed that
publication of these photos would not add any additional benefit to the
public's understanding of the story.
    "This is a complete contradiction of the President Obama's January 21st
memorandum on the Freedom of Information Act, in which he stated that
'speculative' or 'abstract fears' were not sufficient reasons to justify
excessive confidentiality and classification," added the international press
freedom organization. " The government cannot dictate to the public what is
news-worthy and what is not. This is a blow to press freedom and to
democracy's system of checks and balance. We urge the President to respect the
court's decision and stand by his earlier commitment to transparency and

For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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