The Ninth Circuit on Thursday overturned a ruling ordering the FBI to release thousands of files on its surveillance of Muslim communities in the United States.

The dispute over requested records will go back to district court where a federal judge must reassess whether the FBI can continue withholding nearly 50,000 pages of files under a public records law exemption.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Asian Law Caucus, and San Francisco Bay Guardian, a former independent weekly paper, sued the FBI to pry loose the Muslim spying files in 2010.

After a protracted legal battle, the FBI turned over some 50,000 pages of documents but continued to hold an additional 47,800, claiming they were exempt from disclosure under Exemption 7 of the Freedom of Information Act.

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