Beck: Bombing Victim I Wrongly Accused Was An ‘Involuntary’ Public Figure

July 24, 2014 9:35 a.m.

Abdulrahman Alharbi was a victim in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, but Glenn Beck wrongly accused the Saudi Arabian student of being a suspect in the deadly explosions. According to Beck, Alharbi was fair game.

The Washington Post reported Thursday on a novel legal defense employed by Beck in the defamation suit filed by Alharbi earlier this year.

Alharbi, who sustained minor injuries in the blast, is suing Beck and his network, The Blaze, for implicating him in the bombing even after he was cleared by authorities.

Beck’s legal team contends that the conservative radio host, who called Alharbi the “money man” in the bombing plot and said the student faced deportation for “terrorist activities,” is actually the real victim in this case.

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WaPo reported that Beck’s court filings said Alharbi is seeking to stifle the pundit’s First Amendment rights and that Alharbi was an “involuntary” public figure — a standard that if met, according to the newspaper, would render Beck’s errant observations all but irrelevant in court.

From WaPo:

In most cases involving public figures, proof of malice is so hard to demonstrate that the matter rarely goes to trial.

First, however, Beck’s lawyers will have to convince a judge that Alharbi is indeed a public figure, albeit an involuntary one, someone who thrusts himself into the limelight.

What makes Alharbi a public figure, according to Beck? “By behaving suspiciously at the Marathon finishing line when the bombs detonated, thereby causing his detention and a background check by law enforcement,” states Beck’s motion to dismiss, Alharbi “embarked on a course of conduct that was reasonably likely to result in public attention and comment on his background, activities, and immigration status.” Plus, he gave interviews defending himself, said Beck’s legal team, led by Michael J. Grygiel.

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