New York Post settles lawsuit over 'Bag Men' cover

AP News
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Posted: Oct 01, 2014 2:26 PM

BOSTON (AP) — The New York Post has settled a defamation lawsuit over a cover three days after the Boston Marathon bombing that featured a photo of two Massachusetts residents with the headline "Bag Men."

Neither side would disclose terms of the settlement. A document filed in Suffolk Superior Court late last week said only that the two sides have stipulated to dismissal of the lawsuit and that all parties were waiving their right to appeal.

The Post's April 18, 2013, front page had a photo of Salaheddin Barhoum and Yassine Zaimi standing near the marathon finish line with the headline "Bag Men." The sub-headline was "Feds seek these two pictured at Boston Marathon."

Barhoum and Zaimi, who were spectators at the marathon, said the story damaged their reputations and caused emotional distress. The Post emphasized that it did not name the men and never called them suspects in the attack, which killed three people and injured more than 260.

Lawyers for both sides said in court filings that emails circulating among law enforcement in the days after the bombing support their opposing arguments.

The Post said the emails, unsealed by a judge in August, showed that authorities were looking for the men and wanted to identify them, including one email that included the words "BOLO," — short for "be on the lookout" — and "Boston Marathon Bombing Terrorist Suspects."

Lawyers for Barhoum and Zaimi, however, cited an email that appeared to have been sent by a Department of Homeland Security agent that said the men shown in the picture were "not of interest" and that an original request for identification was based on "bogus intel."

The story was published at a time when authorities were frantically trying to determine who was responsible for the attack. Later that day, the FBI released photos of two suspects in the bombing who were later identified as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, of Cambridge.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police the following day. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges and is awaiting a trial in January. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Barhoum's lawyer, Max Stern, and Jeffrey Robbins, a Boston lawyer who represents the Post, declined to discuss the details of the settlement. Both called the resolution "amicable."

Zaimi's lawyer did not immediately return a call seeking comment.