Two Massachusetts men who were falsely implicated in Boston Marathon bombing investigation have filed a lawsuit against the paper that dragged them into the story. A picture of Salaheddin Barhoum, a 16-year-old Revere High School student, and Yassine Zaimi, his 24-year-old friend, were splashed across the cover of the New York Post three days after the Boston bombing took place, and before the actual suspects were identified. Pictured under the banner headline, "BAG MEN" the story said that law enforcement officials were circulating their photo in a desperate attempt to identify and find them.
The cover quickly spread across the Internet as well, with some amateur sleuths claiming that the backpack one of the men was wearing appeared to be concealing a pressure cooker. Other images of the two friends were circulated by Reddit users trying to "crowdsource" the investigation online.
The Post's story was careful not to call the two men suspects or link them directly to the crime, but the plaintiffs will argue that anyone looking at the photo and headline would clearly arrive at that conclusion. The suit accues the paper of "libel, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and invasion of privacy" and seeks an unknown amount of damages. Lawyers for the two men told The Boston Globe they've been harassed in public because of the cover and have even had to seek counseling for depression.
The Post stands by its coverage of the bombings despite being wrong on several key "scoops" it published in the days after the attack. At one point the paper claimed both that 12 people had been killed (the actual number was three) and a Saudi citizen who was injured in the bombing was in custody as an early suspect. Both stories turned out to be false.