1. Richard Jewell: 1996 Olympic Park Bombing
Probably the most famous terror suspect to later be exonerated, Jewell was a security officer named by various media outlets as a “person of interest” in the 1996 Olympic Park bombings in Atlanta. He was never charged, but the media speculated on his possible motives, and supposedly upcoming arrest for months. Jewell ultimately sued NBC, CNN, and the New York Post, among others. He died in 2007 at the age of 44.
2. Steven J. Hatfill: 2001 Anthrax Letters
When envelopes containing deadly anthrax were mailed to media organizations and members of Congress soon after 9/11, a Vassar professor came to believe virologist Steven J. Hatfill was the culprit. He and others eventually convinced the FBI to investigate Hatfill, and many media outlets picked up the story. Hatfill was eventually cleared — he sued The New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Reader’s Digest.
3. Abdallah Higazy: September 11 Attacks
Reports immediately after 9/11 claimed Higazy (above, at right) had fled his hotel near the World Trade Center, leaving behind a Koran, an Egyptian passport, and an aviation radio. Higazy was arrested and held for more than a month, including time in solitary confinement, until a security guard admitted lying about where the radio was found. Higazy sued the U.S. government and was awarded $250,000.
4. Lotfi Raissi: September 11 Attacks
The first person charged in connection with 9/11, Raissi was accused of training the hijackers and held in a London prison for five months before being exonerated — a judge said there was no evidence against him. Charges against him had already been reported in British and American media. He threatened to sue the FBI and has sued the British government.
5. Brandon Mayfield: 2004 Madrid Train Bombings
Mayfield was arrested when one of his fingerprints was mistakenly linked to one found at the scene of the 2004 bombings in Madrid. He was held for two weeks before his release, at one point in solitary confinement, and his image appeared on TV news. He was awarded a $2 million settlement by the U.S. government.
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