Actress Cindy Lee Garcia sues over Innocence of Muslims
A US actress who appeared in an amateur anti-Islam video that sparked protests across the Muslim world is suing the film’s suspected director.
Cindy Lee Garcia accused Nakoula Basseley Nakoula of duping her into a “hateful” film that she was led to believe was a desert adventure movie.
She is also asking a judge to order YouTube to remove the film.
A clip dubbed into Arabic provoked widespread anger for its mocking portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad.
The film, Innocence of Muslims, which was made in the United States, has sparked protests across the Middle East, North Africa and as far away as Sri Lanka, with some demonstrations turning into destructive and violent riots.
Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stephens, were killed during an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
According to Ms Garcia, the script she received had made no mention of the Prophet Muhammad or made references to religion.
She claims she has received death threats since the video was posted to YouTube, and says her association with the film has harmed her reputation.
In a court filing lodged with Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, Ms Garcia alleged fraud, slander and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Lawyers for Ms Garcia contend that changes in dialogue during post-production casts her in a false light.
“[Garcia] had a legally protected interest in her privacy and the right to be free from having hateful words put in her mouth or being depicted as a bigot,” the lawsuit says.
“There was no mention of ‘Mohammed’ during filming or on set. There were no references made to religion nor was there any sexual content of which Ms Garcia was aware,” it adds.
Mr Bakoula denies being “Sam Bacile”, a pseudonym used by the person who posted the video online.
He has gone into hiding after telling US media he was the manager of a company that helped produce the film, but US officials believe him to be the director.
Mr Bakoula was convicted of fraud in 2010 and ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution. He was released in June 2011 with the provision that he did not access the internet or use any aliases without permission.
Authorities questioned him last week over whether he had violated any of those conditions.
YouTube has so far refused Ms Garcia’s requests to remove the film, according to the lawsuit, although it has blocked it in Saudi Arabia, Libya and Egypt.
“This lawsuit is not an attack on the First Amendment nor on the right of Americans to say what they think, but does request that the offending content be removed from the Internet,” the complaint states.
Google, which owns YouTube, has blocked the film in Saudi Arabia, Libya and Egypt.
A spokesman for YouTube said they were reviewing the complaint and would be in court on Thursday.