LOS ANGELES: An actress in the anti-Islam film that triggered violent protests across the Muslim world sued a California man linked to its production on Wednesday for fraud and slander, saying she had received death threats after the video was posted on YouTube.
Actress Cindy Lee Garcia, who also named Google Inc and its YouTube unit as defendants, asked that the film be removed from YouTube and said her right to privacy had been violated and her life endangered, among other allegations.
It was the first known civil lawsuit connected to the making of the video, which denigrated Islam, and generated a torrent of violence across the Muslim world last week.
Garcia accused a producer of the movie, whom she identified as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and used the alias Sam Bacile, of duping her into appearing in the film that she had been led to believe was a simple desert adventure movie.
“This lawsuit is not an attack on the First Amendment, nor on the right for Americans to say what they think, but does request that the offending content be removed from the Internet,” said the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.
A representative for Nakoula’s criminal attorney declined to comment on the lawsuit. A Google spokesman said the company was reviewing the complaint and “will be in court tomorrow.”
Garcia’s lawsuit said her voice was also “dubbed into Arabic” in a version of the trailer.
She said the film, which has circulated online as a 13-minute trailer, had prompted her family to refuse to allow her to see or babysit her grandchildren, fearing for their safety.
US officials have said authorities were not investigating the film project itself and that even if it was inflammatory or led to violence, simply producing it cannot be considered a crime in the United States.
But Nakoula, a Coptic Christian California man who pleaded guilty to bank fraud in 2010, was interviewed by federal probation officers on Saturday probing whether he violated the terms of his release while making the film.
He is prohibited from accessing the Web or assuming aliases without the approval of his probation officer, court records show. Violations could result in him being sent back to prison.
Nakoula, did not return to his house in the Los Angeles suburb of Cerritos following his interview with federal probation officers, and his whereabouts are unknown. Last week, he denied involvement in the film in a phone call to his Coptic bishop in Los Angeles.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2012.