The U.S. news magazine, Newsweek, is retracting a story it ran earlier this month that included allegations that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay desecrated the Koran. The accusations sparked protests in South Asia that left 17 people dead and many more injured.
In an issue dated May 9, Newsweek magazine reported that American guards at Guantanamo Bay had flushed the Koran down a toilet to upset Muslim prisoners they were interrogating. That report sparked violent protests in several countries, including Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, where at least 17 people were killed.
One week later, Newsweek retracted the story, hours after criticism from the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon.
"People lost their lives. People are dead and that's unfortunate. People need to be very careful about what they say just as people need to careful about what they do," said Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
The top U.S. military officer, General Richard Myers, said an investigation into the incident turned up no evidence to substantiate Newsweek's allegation. "We've reviewed 25,000 documents, and there's no indication anything like that happened, other than what I mentioned in the press conference last week, where I think more than one detainee tore pages out of the Koran and put it in the toilet in protest, to stop up the toilet. But we've not found any wrongdoing on the part of U.S. service members."
In a written statement issued Monday, Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker said, "Based on what we know now, we are retracting our original story that an internal military investigation had uncovered Koran abuse at Guantanamo Bay."
Earlier in the day he had expressed regret, and extended sympathies to the victims of the violence that ensued after the report was published.