The New York Post’s Non-Bombing Suspects Sue the New York Post

Salaheddin Barhoum and Yassine Zaimi are seeking damages after the Post ran a photo of them on its cover.

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Remember those two “BAG MEN” to whom the New York Post devoted its cover three days after the Boston Marathon? You probably don’t, because hours after the Post (allegedly) implied that the two men were the suspects the FBI believed to be responsible for the Boston Marathon attacks, the FBI rendered the cover irrelevant by releasing photos of the actual suspects. After that, things got a bit distracting here in Boston.

But the BAG MEN sure do remember that cover, and they’re suing the New York Post and several of its reporters for libel, according to Reuters.

16-year-old Salaheddin Barhoum and 24-year-old Yassine Zaimi watched the marathon finish and left after the winners crossed \ but two hours before the bombs exploded. Three days later, they saw their faces all over social media, and finally, on the cover of the New York tabloid. Barhoun told ABC News, “It’s the worst feeling that I can possibly feel… I’m only 17.” Now he’s seeking unspecified damages.

“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,” says the complaint, and that it led to “scorn, hatred, ridicule, or contempt in the minds of a considerable and respectable segment of the community.”

After the cover first got published, Gawker and other outlets criticized the Post, saying that before they ran the photo, they could have easily found that crowd-sourcing investigators on Reddit had already cleared the boys’ names. After other news outlets quickly identified and interviewed the men, the Post updated its story to say they’d been “cleared by investigators.” The Post never admitted wrong-doing. “We did not identify them as suspects,” editor Coll Allan said, which was technically true, if not in spirit.

Hours later, the FBI released its own images of the actual suspects and of course the rest is history. The ‘derp’ is often strong with the New York Post, but is it actionably so? We’re about to find out.

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