Supposed Boston Marathon 'Bag Men' Sue the New York Post

Editor Previously Defended Paper, Saying It Never Called Pair Suspects

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The New York Post has been sued by two men who say a front-page photo of them at the Boston Marathon before it was bombed falsely portrayed them as possible suspects.

The New York Post's 'Bag Men' cover
The New York Post's 'Bag Men' cover

The defamation lawsuit over the April 18 article, with the headline "BAG MEN," was filed yesterday in Massachusetts Superior Court in Boston by two local men, Salaheddin Barhoum, 16, and Yassine Zaimi, 24, who say they are avid runners who were never sought by authorities after the attack.

The front-page photo and headline became a centerpiece of broad criticism of the media coverage's following the Boston Marathon bombing, but editor Col Allen previously defended the Post's coverage. "The image was emailed to law-enforcement agencies yesterday afternoon seeking information about these men, as our story reported," he said in the statement. "We did not identify them as suspects."

The new complaint disupted that. "In various headlines, articles and images, the newspaper stated or implied that the plaintiffs were the perpetrators of the bombing; that they were suspects in the bombing; that they were being sought by law enforcement; and that photographs of them were being circulated by law enforcement officials. None of these statements were true," according to the complaint.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is accused of carrying out the April 15 attack that killed three and injured more than 260 people with his brother Tamerlan, 26, who died after a shootout with police. No other suspects have been identified by investigators.

The front-page photograph of Mr. Barhoum and Mr. Zaimi from behind, standing near the finish line of the marathon, showed one of them holding a backpack and the other with a duffel bag. A second image inside the newspaper showed the men from the front, both with large red circles around their faces.

The FBI had already identified the Tsarnaev brothers as the main suspects the day before the tabloid article about Mr. Barhoum and Mr. Zaimi was published, according to the complaint.

The disputed article said there was "no direct evidence linking them to the crime, but authorities want to identify them," according to an image of the front-page newspaper attached to the complaint.

Nathaniel Brown, a spokesman for Post owner News Corp., didn't immediately return calls seeking comment on the lawsuit.

~ Bloomberg News ~

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