WASHINGTON — The Defense Department is refusing to do a speedy review of a Freedom of Information Act request for graphic photos of Osama bin Laden's corpse, setting the stage for a protracted battle over access to the images.
In a letter to the Associated Press, the department said the AP did not demonstrate an urgent or compelling need for the photos or show that the information has a particular value that would be lost if not provided in an expedited manner. As a result, it is not clear when or if the photos will be provided.
The AP received the letter Friday, 11 days after it requested the photos and other material from the raid earlier this month by a team of Navy SEALs on bin Laden's compound in Pakistan.
The AP often asks for accelerated review of FOIA requests related to unfolding stories of high interest.
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Whether the photos should be made public has been a source of debate since the announcement of bin Laden's death. Obama decided last week not to release the death photos of bin Laden.
U.S. government officials have described the photos as gruesome.