Ayman Abu Aita, a Palestinian shopkeeper who was portrayed as a terrorist in the summer comedy Bruno, is suing the film’s star Sacha Baron Cohen for libel in a $110 million lawsuit, according to the AP. In the film, Cohen, under the guise of gay fashionista Bruno, interviewed and identified Abu Aita as a member of the militant Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade. Yet Abu Aita denies ever having any association with the terrorist group, and claims that he was never offered a release form to appear in the movie.
Abu Aita also named David Letterman and his production company, Worldwide Pants, in the suit. Before the release of Bruno, Cohen appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman to plug the movie. During the interview, Cohen explained to Letterman that he set up the meeting with Abu Aita in the West Bank with the assistance of a CIA agent, and that the actor feared for his safety while interviewing the “terrorist” at a secret location chosen by Abu Aita. However, according to the lawsuit, Abu Aita’s interview with Bruno occurred at a hotel chosen by Cohen, and in a location under Israeli military control.
The suit was filed last week in District of Columbia federal court. Abu Aita’s lawyer expects a hearing on the complaint next month.