U.S. frees 500 prisoners from Abu Ghraib
Tue Nov 1, 2005 9:45 AM ET
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Five hundred prisoners walked free from the U.S. military's Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq on Tuesday, released in a goodwill gesture to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The detainees were presented with a Koran and $25 on their release which marked Eid al-Fitr celebrations. Their release was in addition to 1,000 prisoners set free in October at the start of the month of fasting.
All 1,500, who also received traditional white shirts, were released after their cases went before an Iraqi-led review board and were found not to have committed serious or violent crimes, the U.S. military said in a statement.
Does it have anything to do with this?
Abu Ghraib pictures to be published
Saying the US "does not surrender to blackmail," a judge in New York ruled that pictures of detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison must be released over government claims that they could damage America's image.
US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein ordered the release of certain pictures in a 50-page decision that said terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan have proven they "do not need pretexts for their barbarism."
The American Civil Liberties Union has sought the release of 87 photographs and four videotapes from Abu Ghraib as part of an October 2003 lawsuit demanding information on the treatment of detainees in US custody and the transfer of prisoners to countries known to use torture. The ACLU contends that prisoner abuse is systemic.
Several brutal images of the abuse at the prison have already been widely distributed, but the lawsuit covers additional photos not yet seen by the public.
The judge said: "Our nation does not surrender to blackmail, and fear of blackmail is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command.