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Et Tu Brüno? Man Deemed "Terrorist" in Film Files Libel Lawsuit

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By Minara El-Rahman on December 03, 2009 12:05 PM

According to the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Ayman Abu Aita, the Palestinian Arab featured as a "terroist" in Sacha Baron Cohen's movie Brüno has sued NBC Universal and Sacha Baron Cohen for libel because. Why? Instaed of being a "terrorist" or member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, he says he's a peace loving grocer.

Ayman Abu Aita claims that he was the victim of libel because of a clip in the Brüno that features him as a "group leader of a terrorist group called Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade."

In the clip, Mr. Cohen's character attempts to convince Ayman Abu Aita to kidnap him. His character is a news reporter seeking fame. He hatches the kidnapping plan as a plot to become famous. Of course, Mr. Cohen's character is unsucessful in persuading Mr. Aita.

Mr. Aita claims in the Bruno lawsuit that he is not a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, but rather a grocer who was convinced by Mr. Cohen that Mr. Cohen was a German film maker who was doing a documentary about the Palestinian cause.

The complaint details how Mr. Aita is and has long been a member of The Holy Land Trust, committed to peace in the troubled region. This is a far cry from the terrorist image that Mr. Cohen portrays in Brüno.

In fact, the complaint claims that the interview between Mr. Cohen and Mr. Aita that took place at a "secret location" was actually held at the Everest Hotel, a sopt chosen by Mr. Cohen and located in the West Bank in military zone C. This type of military zone is under full control of the Israeli army. If Mr. Aita was indeed a known Palestinian terrorist, it would have been nearly impossible for him to have gained access to a hotel in such an Israeli military controlled area of the West Bank, let alone into the US (where he travelled to announce the filing of his suit with his attorney, who is a Greek Orthodox Christian).

As a result of the movie, Mr. Aita claims to have received multiple death threats, that his reputation in his community was ruined, and that he lost business in his family store.

If what Mr. Aita says in his complaint is true, the Bruno lawsuit could cause Mr. Cohen and NBC Universal to owe big money.

Ayman Abu Aita's suit seeks compensatory damages of at least $110 million dollars and requests in his complaint that the movie Brüno be taken out of commercial distribution.

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