American radio host Glenn Beck is being sued for defamation by the man he wrongly accused of having ties to the Boston Marathon bombings last year.
Abdulrahman Alharbi is suing Beck for one count of defamation and one count of defamation with malice, the Boston Daily reported.
In the days following the 15 April terrorist attack, which killed three people and injured 250, federal investigators cleared Alharbi of any involvement.
But Beck and his distributors - The Blaze Inc., Mercury Radio Arts and Premiere Radio Networks - continued to connect the 20 year-old Saudi Arabian student to the bombings, the lawsuit claims.
The political commentator asserted that Alharbi was the “money man”, who provided funding for the attack carried out by brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and criticised the authorities for not investigating him further.
In documents filed at the District Court of Massachusetts on Friday, Alharbi’s lawyer Peter Haley stated: “On and after 15 April, Beck broadcast repeated statements distributed and published to others…identifying Alharbi as an active participant in the crimes that were committed in Boston.
“Beck falsely accused Alharbi of being a criminal who had funded the attacks that took place at the Boston Marathon…the statements made by Beck were false.”
He went on to say that Alharbi’s reputation had been “substantially and severely” damaged and that he had been bombarded with hateful messages online.
Alharbi, who was on a full scholarship to study in the US, sustained minor injuries in the bomb attacks and was questioned during his stay in hospital.
With permission from Alharbi investigators also searched his apartment. According to The Islamic Monthly, who interviewed Alharbi a month later, “the media discovered his full address and publicized it while filming the FBI search of his apartment. By early Tuesday, reports of his full name and photos from his Facebook account were circulated.”
Alharbi was later acquitted of any suspicion of involvement in the bombing.
“[Beck] repeatedly questioned the motives of federal officials in failing to pursue or detain Alharbi,” Haley wrote.
“[He] repeatedly and falsely accused Mr. Alharbi of being a criminal who had funded the attacks that took place at the Boston marathon. Those statements were made widely and publicly. The statements were false and caused grave injury to the plaintiff.”
Alharbi told The Islamic Monthly that he had lost his privacy following the false accusations.
“I have been trying to just forget it and all these stuff. … But I couldn’t forget, I am double injured from the explosion then from the media. So, it’s not easy to forget,” he said.