NEW YORK (AP) — Newsweek magazine, under fire for a publishing story that led to deadly protests in Afghanistan, said Monday it was retracting its report that a military probe had found evidence of desecration of the Koran by U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay.
Earlier Monday, presidential spokesman Scott McClellan had criticized Newsweek’s initial response to the incident, saying it was “puzzling.”
Newsweek had reported in its issue dated May 9 that U.S. military investigators had found evidence that interrogators placed copies of Islam’s holy book in washrooms and had flushed one down the toilet to get inmates to talk.
Newsweek acknowledged problems with the story and its editor, Mark Whitaker, apologized in an editor’s note in this week’s edition. The accusations spawned protests in Afghanistan that left 15 dead and scores injured.
Whitaker wrote in an editor’s note that “We regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst.”
But after the White House criticized Newsweek’s response to the story, Whitaker released a statement later Monday through a spokesman saying the magazine was retracting the story.
“Based on what we know now, we are retracting our original story that an internal military investigation had uncovered Koran abuse at Guantanamo Bay,” Whitaker said.