Three days after the Boston Marathon attack — and hours before officials released photos of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev — two separate men were pictured on the cover of the New York Post with the headline "Bag Men: Feds seek this duo pictured as Boston Marathon." Now, seven weeks later, this duo is suing the newspaper for defamation, infliction of emotional distress, and invasion of privacy.
In a complaint filed Wednesday, Salaheddin Barhoum and Yassine Zaimi's lawyers argue that the New York Post "unambiguously asserted that plaintiffs were persons suspected by law enforcement of having committed these horrific crimes" — a widely-spread assertion "derived from the activities of certain 'crowd-sourcing' websites." (That would be Reddit and 4chan.)
The Post fingered them as suspects after reports surfaced that the FBI was pursuing two men pictured at the marathon wearing backpacks. Those men, of course, turned out to be the Tsarnaev brothers. From the complaint:
Plantiffs Salaheddin Barhoum and Yassine Zaimi, residents of Revere and Malden, and 16 and 24 years old, respectively, are avid runners. Earlier in the day, they were present at the finish line to watch the elite runners. They carried their own running gear in their backpacks. They left at 12:45 p.m. They had nothing whatsoever to do with the bombing.
You can read the full court document below, which is capped off by three pieces of evidence: the New York Post cover, its corresponding story, and an FBI press release issued the day before the "Bag Men" incident that states no arrests have been made and urges the media to be cautious when reporting on suspects.
Jessica Testa is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Jessica Testa at email@example.com.
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