A Massachusetts teenager and his 24-year-old friend have reportedly filed a defamation lawsuit against the New York Post, alleging the newspaper falsely portrayed them as suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.
The Boston Globe reports that the lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court said the photographs and articles published three days after the April 15 bombings made it appear that FBI agents were pursuing Salaheddin Barhoum and Yassine Zaimi, avid runners watching the marathon. Later that evening, authorities released photographs of the suspected bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Barhoum and Zaimi’s photograph appeared on the cover of the newspaper’s April 18 edition beneath the headline, “Bag Men.”
According to the complaint, attorneys for Barhoum, 16, and Zaimi, a part-time college student who also works full time, accused the New York Post of libel, negligent infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy. They 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,” according to the court complaint. The lawsuit claims the newspaper subjected the friends to “scorn, hatred, ridicule, or contempt in the minds of a considerable and respectable segment of the community.”
The New York Post declined to comment Wednesday, but editor Col Allan defended the coverage in April, telling the Associated Press they accurately reported that the image was emailed to law enforcement officials seeking information about the men.
“We did not identify them as suspects,” Allan said.