MOSCOW, March 11 (RAPSI) - A Massachusetts state court has rejected efforts by the New York Post to toss out a defamation lawsuit filed by two men whose photograph graced the tabloid’s cover during a manhunt following the Boston Marathon bombing last year, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.
The Post’s April 18 issue featured a photo of two men standing among the crowd of fans at the Boston Marathon. The words “BAG MEN” were scrawled across the top of the cover, followed by the text: “Feds seek these two pictured at Boston Marathon.”
The two men featured in the photograph were Yassine Zaimi and Salaheddin Barhoum, aged 24 and 16 respectively when their complaint was filed, according to a copy of the complaint published by The Washington Post.
A story published that day by The Post stated that investigators had zeroed in on two suspects, and had begun circulating photographs of the men. According to the report, the photos featured the two men occupying the cover photo, but officials had also identified two suspects based on surveillance video footage. At the time, the reporter stated that it remained unclear whether the two men in the photograph and the two in the surveillance video were the same people.
Brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were identified by name by law enforcement authorities shortly thereafter. The ensuing manhunt entailed the presence of thousands of law enforcement personnel from local, state, and federal agencies, and resulted in a veritable lockdown through parts of the greater Boston area.
The complaint stated: “In various headlines, articles and images, the newspaper stated or implied that the plaintiffs were the perpetrators of the bombing; that they were suspects in the bombing; that they were being sought by law enforcement; and that photographs of them were being circulated by law enforcement officials. None of these statements were true.”
The complaint went on to state that the plaintiffs feared for their lives, their reputations suffered, and they both endued “extreme emotional distress,” as a result of the “defamatory publication.” The plaintiffs sued the Post for defamation and libel in connection with each the front page, the accompanying print story, and the accompanying internet story, as well as with the negligent, reckless, or intentional infliction of emotional distress, and invasion of privacy.
Bloomberg reported that the Post advanced the argument that its coverage constituted a “fair report,” but that the judge rejected the argument.