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updated 8/13/2012 2:34:22 PM ET 2012-08-13T18:34:22

Guatemalans who had been subjected to sexually transmitted diseases by U.S. researchers in the 1940s have appealed a judge's dismissal of their lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton dismissed the suit two months ago. He ruled that federal law bars claims against the U.S. based on injuries suffered abroad. The victims filed an appeal Monday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The suit, on behalf of the victims and their heirs, came after revelations that Guatemalan prisoners, mental patients, soldiers and orphans had been deliberately infected without their consent. The researchers were studying the effects of penicillin, then a relatively new drug.

President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius have apologized for the research.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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