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White House Report, May 16: Newsweek Report

16 May 2005

Newsweek report of Quran is wrong, White House says

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan says Newsweek magazine should retract its erroneous news report that interrogators at the U.S. detention center at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base desecrated the Quran.

"Its puzzling that while Newsweek now acknowledges that they got the facts wrong, they refuse to retract the story," McClellan told reporters May 16.  [News reports said Newsweek had retracted the story later that day.]

News reports said Newsweek announced it had retracted the story that day.

"There is a certain journalistic standard that should be met, and in this case it was not met," he said. "The report was not accurate, and it was based on a single anonymous source who cannot personally substantiate the report so they cannot verify the accuracy of the report."

According to news reports, rioting broke out in Afghanistan May 10 and was later followed by additional protests and anti-U.S. rallies in Pakistan and Gaza over the allegations in Newsweek's story.

"This report has had serious consequences," the spokesman said. "People have lost their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged."

Responding to additional questions on the allegations, McClellan said the White House and the Department of Defense "could find no credible evidence" of such incidents.

"The United States of America values the religious freedom of all," the press secretary said adding, "In fact, at Guantanamo, we have made sure that the detainees are able to worship freely, and that they are provided copies of the holy Koran."

For additional information, see Newsweek Report of Quran's Desecration Called Erroneous

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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