BOSTON (Reuters) - A Saudi Arabian national who was injured in the bombing attack on last year’s Boston Marathon has filed a defamation lawsuit against television commentator Glenn Beck for publicly accusing him of being the “money man” behind the attacks.
Beck, a conservative television and radio personality, repeatedly criticized the federal investigation into the attacks that killed three people and injured 264, and in May 2013 claimed that Abdulrahman Alharbi had financed the attacks.
Alharbi, a 20-year-old exchange student, said in a filing in U.S. District Court in Boston that he had been questioned by federal officials after the attack but that his questioners “quickly concluded that Mr. Alharbi ... had no involvement in the attacks.”
The suit, which was filed on Friday and seeks unspecified financial damages, says that Beck “substantially and severely damaged” Alharbi’s reputation and that he has received messages calling him a “murderer, child killer and terrorist.”
Beck did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment on Tuesday.
U.S. prosecutors contend that a pair of ethnic Chechen brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, planted a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs at the race’s crowded finish line on April 15, 2013.
Three days later, after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released photos of the two at the scene, naming them as suspects, the pair tried to flee Boston, killing a police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in an unsuccessful bid to steal his gun.
That set off an intense manhunt. Tamerlan, 26, died after a gunbattle with police in a nearby suburb, while Dzhokhar briefly escaped, causing a daylong lockdown of most of the Boston area that ended when he was found hiding in a boat on a trailer parked near a home.
The surviving Tsarnaev, now 20, is in a prison west of Boston awaiting trial on charges that carry the possibility of the death penalty if he is convicted.
Russian authorities in 2011 warned the FBI that Tamerlan Tsarnaev may have become radicalized on a trip to his homeland. A congressional report last week showed that following a 2012 visit to Russia’s Dagestan region, the elder Tsarnaev began posting “extremist-themed videos” online and disrupted services at the mosque he attended in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Andrew Hay