FOOTAGE AND IMAGES taken during a US raid on the Osama bin Laden compound in Pakistan almost a year ago should remain classified, according to a US federal judge.
Watchdog group Judicial Watch had applied for the release of the materials.
However, yesterday US District Judge James E Boasberg denied their request, saying that it would not release material which the CIA said was classified and exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.
“A picture may be worth a thousand words. And perhaps moving pictures bear an even higher value,” Boasberg wrote in his judgment. “Yet, in this case, verbal descriptions of the death and burial of Osama bin Laden will have to suffice, for this court will not order the release of anything more.”
“The court declines plaintiff’s invitation to substitute its own judgment about the national-security risks inherent in releasing these records for that of the executive-branch officials who determined that they should be classified,” he ruled.
The US Justice Department said that images of the deceased bin Laden are being withheld from the public over concerns they could incite violence against American citizens overseas and compromise security systems used by the CIA and US military.
Meanwhile, today the family of assassinated al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was deported from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia.
Bin Laden’s three widows and two of his daughters were convicted by a Pakistani court earlier this month of illegal entry into, and residence in, the country.
The women were arrested following the US siege on bin Laden’s safe house in Abbottabad in which the militant leader was killed in May 2011.
They were sentenced to 45 days in prison, but the time they had spent in custody was also taken into account, and were fined around $110 each.
In 1994, Saudi Arabia stripped bin Laden of his Saudi citizenship because his behaviour was deemed ton conflict with the country’s interests. It was not clear if the country would accept the deportees, though two of the widows have Saudi citizenship.
The third is from Yemen, and lawyers for the family have suggested that she and her children may move on to Yemen from Saudi Arabia.
Dawn.com reports that around 12 members of the family, including the women who were convicted, were deported on an early morning flight today to Saudi Arabia.
- Additional reporting by the AP