Rolling Stone defends putting Boston bomb suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on cover

The cover has been criticised online for ‘making a celebrity’ out of the bombing suspect.

Updated 9.52pm

US MAGAZINE ROLLING Stone has put Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of its latest issue.

The cover photograph is an image that 19-year-old Tsarnaev himself posted online before the attack on the Boston Marathon in April.

The text over the photograph reads: “The Bomber – How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster.”

In a statement issued tonight, the magazine defended itself: “Our hearts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and our thoughts are always with them and their families.”

“The cover story … falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone’s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the world’s most important political and cultural issues of the day,” it added.

The image was posted on the its Facebook page late on Tuesday night and has already attracted more than 5,000 comments – the majority of which disapprove of the decision to put Tsarnaev on the cover.

“I think it’s wrong to make celebrities out of these people,” says one comment by user Shawn Anthony. “Why give the guy the cover of Rolling Stone? TIME gave Charles Manson the cover and all the magazines carried pictures of the Columbine shooters on the covers, too. Don’t make martyrs out of these people.”

Another commenter called Adrienne Graham wrote: “Oh look, Rolling Stone magazine is glamourizing terrorism. Awesome. I will NOT be buying this issue, or any future issues.”

The magazine says the report by contributing editor Janet Reitman is a “deeply reported account of the life and time” of Tsarnaev, who is referred to as Jahar rather than Dzhokhar throughout the accompanying information about the article.

Rolling Stone said the feature article paints a picture of a “charming kid with a bright future” who was heavily influenced by his brother’s approach to Islam.

“Reitman spent the last two months interviewing dozens of sources- childhood and high school friends, teachers, neighbours and law enforcement agents, many of whom spoke for the first time about the case – to deliver a riveting and heartbreaking account of how a charming kid with a bright future became a monster,” the magazine said in a statement.

The article is not yet online, but the magazine’s statement says the piece covers how Tsarnaev “took his religion seriously” and had a troubled home life in the months leading up to the bombing.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to all charges in connection with the attacks in his first court appearance in Boston last week.

First published 9.50am

Read: Boston bomb suspect Tsarnaev pleads not guilty >

Read: Boston bombing suspect indicted on 30 counts, faces death penalty or life in prison >

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