BOSTON (AP) — Two Massachusetts residents have sued the New York Post, saying the newspaper falsely portrayed them as suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings in part by featuring them on the front page under the headline “Bag Men.”
The lawsuit said photographs and articles the Post published three days after the bombings made it appear that law enforcement officials suspected 16-year-old Salaheddin Barhoum and 24-year-old Yassine Zaimi as the attack’s perpetrators, before the FBI publicly identified two brothers as suspects.
But the Post still stands by its story, and says it never identified them as suspects.
Lawyers for the two Moroccan plaintiffs said Thursday the friends had hoped to run the race that day as unofficial entrants, and had running gear in their bags.
The civil action said the Post’s headline implied they had bombs in their bags and accuses the newspaper of libel, negligent infliction of emotional distress and privacy invasion.
Filed Wednesday in Boston, the claim seeks unspecified monetary damages.
A Post spokeswoman referred questions about the lawsuit Thursday to a statement the newspaper’s editor made in April.
“The image was emailed to law enforcement agencies yesterday afternoon seeking information about these men, as our story reported. We did not identify them as suspects,” New York Post editor-in-chief Col Allan’s statement said at the time.
A copy of the April 18 front page, which is included as a lawsuit exhibit, shows the publication also included a line in smaller print on its cover saying there was no direct evidence linking the two males to the crime but that authorities wanted to identify them.
But Barhoum’s attorney Max Stern said Thursday that the plaintiffs, whose names the Post didn’t use, were “collateral damage” in the newspaper’s rush to scoop the competition.