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DoD Official Calls Story 'False' on Koran Desecration

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2005 – There's no evidence to support a recent Newsweek magazine article accusing U.S. personnel at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, of desecrating the Muslim holy book, the Koran, a senior Pentagon official noted.

"Newsweek's story about Koran desecration is demonstrably false, and there have thus far been no credible allegations of willful Koran desecration, and Newsweek has produced no such evidence," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said today in response to media queries.

A Newsweek story published May 9 reported that American military interrogators at the Guantanamo prison facility had flushed a Koran down a toilet. The article sparked deadly anti-U.S. riots in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other Muslim countries.

The magazine's editor has since apologized for the gaffe, and now says there's doubt that the article in question was based on fact.

Whitman stated that the Newsweek article "was irresponsible and had significant consequences that reverberated throughout Muslim communities around the world."

The magazine "hid behind anonymous sources, which by their own admission do not withstand scrutiny," Whitman noted.

Whitman stated that Newsweek cannot "retract the damage they have done to this nation or those that were viciously attacked by those false allegations."

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