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Irving mayor, Fox, Glenn Beck, others off the hook in ‘clock kid’ Ahmed Mohamed defamation suit

🕐 3 min read

The Muslim boy who found himself in the national spotlight after he was wrongfully arrested for bringing a homemade alarm clock to school has lost in a defamation lawsuit against conservative media companies and personalities.

The lawsuit accused Fox Television Stations, LLC, TheBlaze Inc., television and radio personalities, such as Glenn Beck, Ben Ferguson and Ben Shapiro, and others of airing and making false statements accusing Ahmed Mohamed and his family of being terrorists. The 21-page complaint alleged that the defendants misled the public and, in doing so, fanned “the flames of fear and anger toward Muslims and immigrants.”

District Judge Maricela Moore dismissed Glenn Beck and his network TheBlaze, as well as the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank, and its executive vice president Jim Hanson from the suit.

On Jan. 13, attorneys for the teen’s father, Mohamed Mohamed, agreed to dismiss Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne from the suit, according to a news release from the city of Irving.

According to the release, Van Duyne is the only party who was voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiff. The agreement states that the claims against the mayor cannon be refiled and the dismissal cannot be appealed.

Fox; TheBlaze Inc. and its founder, Beck; the Center for Security Policy, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank and its executive vice president, Jim Hanson; television and radio personalities Ferguson and Shapiro; and Van Duyne, were all sued by the boy’s father, Mohamed Mohamed, in Dallas County in September.

Shapiro, a national columnist and radio talk show host, is the remaining defendant. A hearing on Shapiro’s motion to dismiss is scheduled for Jan. 30.

The judge found that the defendants are protected under the Texas Citizens Participation Act, a state law designed to fight Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, also known as SLAPP. The statute, enacted in 2011, protects citizens from defamation lawsuits on the basis of rights to free speech.

The Mohameds’ attorney was not immediately available for comment.

Mike Grygiel, who represents Beck and TheBlaze Inc., said in a statement that his clients are pleased that the court applied the law “to protect free speech through the summary dismissal of unmeritorious defamation claims.”

Hanson, of the Center for Security Policy, said in a statement that the ruling “reaffirms our most fundamental liberty – the right to free expression – and punishes Mr. Mohammed and his allies for attempting to suppress ideas they oppose.”

The defamation lawsuit was filed about a year after Ahmed was arrested and interrogated by Irving police in September 2015, when he brought an alarm clock that a teacher thought to be a bomb. Libelous statements about the then-13-year-old were made in the media shortly after, according to the complaint.

The incident turned the teenager into a viral sensation and earned him the nickname “Clock Boy” or “Clock Kid.”

Ahmed’s family also recently filed a civil rights lawsuit against his former Texas school district, the principal of the high school and the city of Irving.

The boy and his family left Irving and moved to Qatar in October, 2015. – FWBP contributed to this report. 

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