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`Release prisoner records'

By Sridhar Krishnaswami

WASHINGTON, SEPT. 16. A Federal judge sitting in New York has ordered the Bush administration to release records related to the treatment of prisoners in Iraq, giving Washington 30 days to comply with the order.

Judge Alvin Hallerstein criticised officials for moving at a "glacial pace" in responding to the nearly one-year-old Freedom of Information Act requests from civil rights organisations including the American Civil Liberties Union. "If the documents are more of an embarrassment than a secret, the public should know of our Government's treatment of individuals captured and held abroad. We are a nation that strives to value the dignity of all humanity," Mr. Hallerstein wrote. The judge also made the point that the Federal Government's merely raising of national security concerns did not justify "unlimited delay".

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