A Bethlehem shopkeeper is suing actor and filmmaker Sacha Baron Cohen — aka Bruno — for labeling him as a terrorist in his film of that name, and describing him as that on the David Letterman show. Ayman Abu Aita says his reputation has been damaged as a result of the fim and its surrounding international publicity. The suit also names Larry Charles, the film’s director and Universal, its distributor.
The actor and comic Baron Cohen plays a gay Austrian fashion journalist in the film, which was released in the UK in July. Keen to become what he calls “the most famous Austrian since Hitler,” Bruno travels to the middle east, and in a short interview with Abu Aita, asks to be kidnapped in an attempt to become famous.
A caption labels Abu Aita as a member of the militant al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, the armed wing of the Fatah movement. He is a member of the board of the Holy Land trust, a non-profit organisation that works on Palestinian community-building.
Cohen was interviewed on David Letterman’s talkshow in the US, and said finding a “terrorist” to interview for the movie took several months and some help from a CIA contact.