WASHINGTON (CN) – A West Bank man wants $110 million from Sacha Baron Cohen, the producers of “Bruno” and David Letterman’s company for allegedly labeling him as a terrorist in the movie and sullying his reputation on a global scale.
Ayman Abu Aita is a grocer in the village of Beit Sahour in Bethlehem. He was featured in the 2009 movie, “Bruno,” which shows Aita being interviewed by Cohen and the words “terrorist group leader al-aqsa martyrs brigade” below his face.
Aita says he was defamed again when Cohen appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman in July 2009 and “went to great lengths to portray falsely … plaintiff as a ‘terrorist group leader.'”
Aita says he is a “peace-loving person who abhors violence (and) enjoyed a good reputation for honesty and a peaceful nature throughout the community in Bethlehem,” according to the Federal complaint.
He says he’s a member of the Greek Orthodox Church and the treasurer of the Holy Land Trust, which he describes as “a charitable organization committed to promoting peace and reconciliation among Israelis and Palestinians” in the West Bank.
Aita says the lies that he’s a terrorist have caused “death threats, shame, loss of reputation, loss of effectiveness as a community organizer, depression and anxiety, loss of business to his family market,” and fear for his family’s safety.
Aita seeks $10 million in compensatory damages, and $100 million in exemplary damages. He also wants the movie pulled from commercial distribution “by whatever means.”
Along with Cohen and Letterman, defendants include NBC Universal Inc.; CBS Broadcasting Inc.; Letterman’s company, Worldwide Pants; Gannett Co.; and Larry Charles.
Plaintiff is represented by Joseph Drennan.