A US federal appeals court has ruled that the US government does not need to release photos taken of Osama bin Laden after his death.
The unanimous ruling by the US Court of Appeals rejected an appeal for the images by conservative nonprofit watchdog group, Judicial Watch, which had filed a Freedom of Information Act request.
The photos were taken during and after a raid in bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2, 2011 by US special forces.
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While the Defense Department said "it didn't turn up anything pertinent to the FOIA," according to the Associated Press, the Central Intelligence Agency has argued the photos should remain classified to protect national security.
In Tuesday's ruling, the court sided with the CIA, saying the images could be used to conduct facial recognition analysis of the Al Qaeda leader and therefore jeopardize intelligence gathering methods.
They concluded images of bin Laden's burial at sea and other graphic images could incite new violence against US citizens.
The raid, which occurred shortly after 1:00 am local time, was carried out by US Navy SEALs and overseen by the CIA.
In the 24 hours after the raid, US forces took bin Laden's body to Afghanistan where he was identified and then buried at sea.