The New York Post lost its bid to throw out a defamation lawsuit by two men whose photo and the headline “BAG MEN” appeared on the tabloid’s front page last year during the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombers.
Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Judith Fabricant in Boston yesterday rejected the Post’s argument that the paper’s coverage represented a “fair report.”
A fact finder could conclude the Post’s conduct was “extreme and outrageous” given heightened tensions surrounding the aftermath of the April 15 bombings, Fabricant said in her ruling. Three people were killed and more than 200 were maimed and injured.
Yassine Zaimi and Salaheddin Barhoum, Morocco natives who are legal U.S. residents and live in suburban Boston, were pictured on the Post’s April 18 front-page photo with the additional headline, “Feds seek these two pictured at Boston Marathon.”
News Corp.’s Post wrote about an e-mail circulated among law enforcement seeking the identities of two young men with backpacks, who were photographed chatting near the finish line. The Post didn’t identify the men by name. In a disclaimer accompanying the photo, the paper said there was “no direct evidence linking them to the crime, but authorities want to identify them.”
Joseph D. Lipchitz, a lawyer for the paper, didn’t immediately respond yesterday to an e-mail seeking comment on the ruling.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, is accused of conducting the bombings with his brother Tamerlan, 26, who died after a shootout with police. A trial for Tsarnaev is set for November.
The same day as the photo of Zaimi and Barhoum was published, the FBI released surveillance photos of the Tsarnaev brothers and identified them as the primary suspects.
The case is Barhoum v. NYP Holdings Inc., 13-2062, Commonwealth of Massachusetts Superior Court, Suffolk County (Boston).
With assistance from Erik Larson in New York.
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