WASHINGTON (CN) – A Palestinian grocer who describes himself as a “peace-loving person” says Sacha Baron Cohen unfairly portrayed him as a terrorist in “Bruno,” Cohen’s latest movie. Ayman Abu Aita also sued David Letterman and CBS for broadcasting an interview with Cohen in which, Aita says, Cohen defamed him again.
While bantering with Letterman on his show, Cohen repeatedly misrepresented the facts surrounding his interview with him, Aita says in his Superior Court complaint.
Aita says Cohen falsely claimed that he was interviewed at a “secret location.”
The location, Abu Aita claims, was the Everest Hotel, on the West Bank, which he says Cohen and his producers chose because it was under Israeli military control and “flanked by an Israeli police academy and an Israeli military base.”
Aita says Cohen found him through the Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem, “seeking an interview subject who was a Christian; who had been administratively detained by Israel at some point; and who was a member of the Fatah political party.”
Abu Aita says he was told a German journalist “was interested in learning about his peaceful activism.”
Aita says his portrayal in the movie caused him to receive death threats and suffer shame, loss of reputation, depression and anxiety.
He says he also lost his “effectiveness as a community organizer and conciliator” and lost business at his family market.
He sued Cohen, Letterman, “Bruno” producers Larry Charles, Jonah Hill, Dan Mazer and Matthew Roach, NBC Universal, CBS, Letterman’s company Worldwide Pants, Gannett Co., and Blockbuster.
He seeks $10 million in compensatory damages and $100 million in punitive damages, alleging six counts of libel and slander.
He is represented by Hatem Ahmad of Israel and Joseph Drennan of Washington.