(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Channel 2 and its reporter Amit Segal on Sunday filed their written legal defense against MK Oren Hazan’s (Likud) civil defamation lawsuit, accusing him of trying to “hide his sordid past” from the public.
Hazan sued Channel 2 and Segal for NIS 1 million in October following a June report claiming he had managed a casino in Burgas, Bulgaria, hired prostitutes and bought crystal meth for Israeli patrons.
Several people in Burgas told Channel 2 that Hazan managed the casino, and a worker at a nearby strip club called him “Big Boss Oren.”
Hazan’s attorneys wrote in the lawsuit that the report was untrue and the allegations amounted to “media assassination and personal persecution.”
Among the damages claimed in the suit, in addition to sullying Hazan and his family name, is that Hazan, despite holding the title of deputy Knesset speaker, has not been given any shifts to run Knesset meetings, and that his girlfriend’s parents will not let him come to their home for Shabbat meals.
The defense responded that “the claims published in the investigative report” about Hazan “were true claims of great interest to the public, which were checked and published according to the professional standards of responsible journalism.”
Further, the defense said additional investigation since the dispute over the report began have only confirmed the report’s claims and found additional evidence to support them.
Latching on to what they viewed as a central hole in Hazan’s claims, the defense brief said there was strong evidence he ran a casino and that his Bulgaria business interests did not relate solely to a hotel as he has repeatedly said.
Channel 2 and Segal also argued that Hazan could not claim he had been lost his reputation or good name particularly State Comptroller Joseph Shapira accused him last week of filing false campaign financing declarations.
Hazan did not sue Channel 10, which reported he sexually harassed servers at a bar he managed in Tel Aviv, because he said Segal’s report was the source of his name being sullied. In addition, the MK accused Segal of having a personal vendetta against him.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.