Sacha Baron Cohen settles slander suit with Palestinian grocer
Ayman Abu Aita sought millions of dollars in damages after he was portrayed as a terrorist in the 2009 comedy 'Bruno,' the Daily Mail reports.
A Palestinian grocer portrayed as a terrorist in the comedy "Bruno" has settled his slander suit against Jewish actor Sacha Baron Cohen and talk show host David Letterman, according to a report by the Daily Mail.
In an article published Friday, the Daily Mail said that Ayman Abu Aita was interviewed in the 2009 comedy, where he was labeled in a caption as a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a violent offshoot of the Palestinian Fatah movement, and that Baron Cohen later discussed his encounter with a "terrorist" on Letterman's CBS show.
Abu Aita's court papers described him as a Christian and "a peace-loving person" who was living in the West Bank, adding that he "has never associated with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade or any terrorist activity," said the Daily Mail.
"He went to the interview that appeared in 'Bruno' thinking he was talking to a journalist about peace activism, his court complaint said. Instead, the movie spurred death threats against him, damaged his business and made him fear for his family's safety," the Daily Mail report said.
The suit reportedly sought millions of dollars in damages.
In "Bruno," Baron Cohen plays an Austrian fashion journalist aiming to make peace in the Middle East. The British comedian "is known for crafting outlandish characters and he often dupes people into interviews to film their reactions to his antics," said the Daily Mail.
The report said that, according to Abu Aita's lawyer, attorney Joseph Peter Drennan, the case has been settled "to the mutual satisfaction" of everyone involved, and added that court records showed the case was designated settled and closed on Wednesday.
"Drennan wouldn't discuss the terms. Lawyers for Baron Cohen, Letterman and other defendants involved with the movie and Letterman's 'Late Show' didn't immediately return calls," said the Daily Mail.
The article added that Baron Cohen's lawyers and Letterman's attorneys "have said in court filings that free speech rights protected the statements about Abu Aita in Bruno and the Late Show interview."
"Abu Aita's 'name or likeness was used in a newsworthy context in a documentary-style movie that conveys matters of legitimate public interest,' Baron Cohen's lawyers said in papers filed last year," the Daily Mail said.