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Settlement Reached In Marathon Defamation Lawsuit

A settlement has been reached in a defamation lawsuit against the New York Post for a cover that featured a photo of two Massachusetts residents with the headline "Bag Men" three days after the deadly Boston Marathon bombing.

The April 18, 2013, cover of The New York Post is now at the center of a libel lawsuit. (Courtesy Newseum via Poynter)
The April 18, 2013, cover of The New York Post is now at the center of a libel lawsuit. (Courtesy Newseum via Poynter)

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 are waiving their right to appeal.

The Post's front page on April 18, 2013, 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." The two men were never linked to the investigation.

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.

WBUR reported in February that the newspaper also said that it based its story on a legitimate email from a law enforcement source.

In the inside pages, the newspaper printed another photo of Zaimi and Barhoum with red circles around their faces.

WBUR also previously reported that Zaimi's lawyer, Bill Barrett said, "They don't need to specifically give their names in order for this to be a slanderous action. Their pictures were all over the newspaper, they had headlines over their heads saying essentially, 'These are the guys with the bombs in their bags.'"

Barhoum's lawyer, Max Stern, declined to discuss any details of the settlement.

"All I can tell you is that we've reached an amicable resolution," Stern said Wednesday.

Jeffrey Robbins, a Boston lawyer who represents the Post, would not discuss terms of the settlement and also called the resolution of the case "amicable."

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

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.

With reporting from the WBUR newsroom and the Associated Press.

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