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DoD Can Keep Detainee ID’s Secret, Court Rules

(CN) - The 2nd Circuit overturned an order requiring the Department of Defense to disclose the identifying information of Guantanamo detainees who claim they've been abused by military personnel and fellow detainees.

The federal appeals court in Manhattan determined that the privacy rights of the detainees trump any public interest in disclosure. The court said the government should protect the identities of the detainees and their families, despite two Freedom of Information Act requests by The Associated Press, seeking records related to detainee treatment at Guantanamo Bay.

The AP had pushed for full disclosure, while the government maintained that the material fell under a FOIA exemption for records that "could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." According to the DoD, detainee testimony that "appears cooperative with the United States and hostile or disloyal to the Taliban could subject the detainees' family members to retaliation."

Judge Hall sided with the government, saying abuse victims are entitled to privacy protection.

"Certainly they have an interest in both keeping the personal facts of their abuse from the public eye and in avoiding disclosure of their identities in order to prevent embarrassment," Hall wrote.

The court concluded that the exemption applies to the materials sought by The AP.

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