New York Post sued for libel over ‘Bag Men’ Boston bombing report

Lawyers show the April 18 New York Post story that allegedly falsely accused two Massachusetts men as being the Boston Marathon terror suspects. PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO

A Malden man and a Revere teen have filed a libel lawsuit against the New York Post for running photos and articles that identified them as suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.

Three days after the deadly terror attack, the Post printed the front-page headline “BAG MEN: Feds seek this duo pictured at Boston Marathon” along with a picture of 16-year-old Salaheddin Barhoum and 24-year-old Yassine Zaimi.

Barhoum’s lawyer said Thursday that the men were never suspects in the attack, and that the Post report made the duo “the most hated of all public enemies.”

“They were not suspects, they were not being sought for any purpose, and they certainly were not the perpetrators,” said Attorney Max Stern. “The Post had no basis whatsoever for doing this to them.”

The same day the story ran, the FBI released pictures of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who are believed to have carried out the attack.

Stern said his client found out about the Post report during a media frenzy at his Malden home, and that he was threatened and harassed.

“He was shaken to his core and he remains shaken to this day. Irresponsible is an inadequate word to describe this type of journalism,” Stern said.

Zaimi’s lawyer, Attorney William Barrett, said his client broke out in hives and had to undergo counseling due to the ordeal. He also said Zaimi’s family in Morocco was “accosted on numerous occasions.”

“The long tentacles of the Post reached over seas to (his) family,” Barrett said.

Lawyers point to what they called a "lame" attempt at correcting the story online. PHOTO CREDIT: NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO
Lawyers point to what they called a “lame” attempt at correcting the story online. PHOTO CREDIT: NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO

“The front page of a newspaper brings with it the imprimatur of truth,” said Michael Mone, another attorney for Zaimi.  “That’s why this is a lot different than these Nancy drew wanna-be’s on the internet circulating photographs. This is a major daily newspaper and for them to stamp our clients as terrorists… is just irresponsible journalism at its height.”

The Department of Justice sent out a statement in the bombing aftermath, saying, “Any images not released via FBI official channels should not be considered credible.”

Post editor Col Allan defended the paper’s report, saying in an April 18 statement, “We stand by our story. 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.”

On April 20, two days after the report, Post owner and media mogul Rupert Murdoch tweeted: “All NYPost pics were those distributed by FBI. And instantly withdrawn when FBI changed directions.”

The Post did not return a request for comment as of deadline today.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Boston’s Suffolk Superior Court, accused the Post of libel; defamation; negligent, intentional and/or reckless infliction of emotional distress; and invasion of privacy.

The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified monetary damages.

“(The amount) is for a jury to decide,” Money said. “We are prepared to try this case.”

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Egypt calls for Gaza ceasefire as fighting rages

Egypt called on Israel and the Palestinians on Saturday to halt fire and resume peace talks, but violence continued unabated.

National

SpaceX rocket terminated in Texas test flight

A Space Exploration Technologies’ Falcon 9 rocket suffered an anomaly shortly after launch on a test flight, triggering its automatic termination system.

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Wellbeing

Asics is giving away free gear around NYC…

Asics wants to see you on the court - and in the stands for the U.S. Open, which begins Monday - by giving away free…

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…