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Pranksters print spoof NY Times

Front page of spoof paper
The spoof edition fooled many readers

A fake edition of the New York Times announcing the end of the Iraq war has been handed out to commuters in the US.

More than one million free copies of the 14-page "special edition" newspaper were distributed, mainly in the cities of New York and Los Angeles.

Another bogus story was about all Americans being given free healthcare.

A liberal group called the Yes Men, well known in the US for its practical jokes, claimed responsibility for the elaborate prank.

The fake paper - dated 4 July 2009 - had a motto on its front page which read "all the news we hope to print".

The hoax was accompanied by a website that mimicked the look of The New York Times's real website.

A page of the spoof site contained links to dozens of liberal organisations, which were also listed in the print edition.

The fake edition surprised commuters, many of whom took the free copies thinking they were legitimate.

Later, the Yes Men issued a statement claiming responsibility.

"In an elaborate operation six months in the planning, 1.2 million papers were printed at six different presses and driven to pre-arranged pick-up locations."

The statement added that thousands of volunteers helped to distribute the fake edition.

A spokeswoman for the newspaper, Catherine Mathis, said: "This is obviously a fake issue of The Times. We are in the process of finding out more about it."

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