In what human rights groups called a surprise decision, the U.S. Justice Department released the names of 55 Guantanamo Bay prison detainees Friday.


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) posted the list of the 55 detainees on its website (PDF). The release of their names does not absolve them of any wrongdoing.

"We did not expect this," an attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights told the Associated Press. "This is an important development."

Though the prisoners have been approved for transfer to other countries, there was no indication of when that might occur.

In a statement, the ACLU noted that the list did not include Adnan Latif, who died in his cell earlier this month. Latif, one of the first people imprisoned at Guantanamo, had his release blocked by a Circuit Court of Appeals judge last year.

The Obama administration has argued that keeping the names of Guantanamo's 167 prisoners a secret was necessary, while their transfers were negotiated. Friday's decision leaves 112 of them yet to be identified.

"Today's release is a partial victory for transparency, and it should be a spur to action," said ACLU senior staff attorney Zachary Katznelson in the group's statement. "These men have now spent three years in prison since our military and intelligence agencies all agreed they should be released."

[Image via Agence France-Presse]