Two Massachusetts residents have filed a defamation lawsuit against the Post for insinuating that they were suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings. Their image was splashed across the front page with the headline, “Bag Men: Feds seek this duo pictured at Boston Marathon.”
The suit alleges that the photos and accompanying article implied that the FBI was pursuing Salaheddin Barhoum, 16, and Yassine Zaimi, 24, who were attending the marathon as spectators, as potential suspects in the attacks. Later that evening, authorities released images of the suspected bombers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
The April 18 Post piece, which is still online, shows a photo of the two men–who were not involved in the bombings in any way–with giant red circles around their heads. The highly suggestive article says that both men were carrying large bags, and that authorities were trying to identify them.
The piece continued:
Meanwhile, officials have identified two potential suspects who were captured on surveillance videos taken shortly before the deadly blasts, law-enforcement sources told The Post yesterday.
Authorities know the names of the two men, but do not have enough evidence to make an arrest for Monday’s attack, which killed three and wounded 176, the sources said.
It was not immediately clear if the men in the law-enforcement photos are the same men in the surveillance videos.
An update at the beginning of the post adds that the men were cleared by investigators.
According to the Boston Globe, the lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, accuses the Post of libel, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and invasion of privacy. Mr. Barhoum and Mr. Zaimi are seeking damages, including unspecified monetary compensation.
“The front page would lead a reasonable reader to believe that plaintiffs had bombs in their bags, that they were involved in causing the Boston Marathon bombing,” the complaint reads.
The Post declined to comment on the lawsuit on Wednesday, but in April Post editor Col Allen told the AP, “We did not identify them as suspects.”
“What kind of stereotyping and profiling, what type of reasoning, led the Post to think this was OK to do?” a lawyer for the plaintiffs lamented to the Globe. “And would they have ever done this if this was just some white kid from the suburbs who was standing there with the backpack?”