We’ll have to admit that before the movie “Brüno” premiered earlier this year, we watched and chuckled as its star, British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, promoted the film on David Letterman’s late-night show. In what quickly became a viral clip on the Web, Baron Cohen, who played a fictional gay, Austrian TV show host, described a scene in the film in which he interviews an “actual” Palestinian terrorist in a “secret location” in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
In the scene, a caption identifies the man, Ayman Abu Aita, as a “terrorist group leader, al-aqsa martyrs brigade,” and Baron Cohen unsuccessfully tries to convince Abu Aita to kidnap him in a bid to get famous. Palestinian terrorists, Brüno said, are the “best in the business” and that “al-Qaeda is so 2001.”
Since the film was released, Abu Aita has fought back. He went on a media blitz to counter Baron Cohen’s claims in the film that he works for the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, which was once an offshoot of a Palestinian political party to which Abu Aita currently belongs.
Today Abu Aita is in the U.S. with his lawyer, Joseph Peter Drennan, to announce the filing of a libel and slander lawsuit against Baron Cohen and NBC Universal, which released “Bruno.” (Click here for the complaint.) In the suit, filed in federal court in the District of Columbia, Abu Aita, who is Christian and owns a grocery store near Bethlehem, says Baron Cohen led him to believe he was a German filmmaker doing a film about the Palestinian cause. He then met him for an interview at a hotel near Bethlehem that is next door to an Israeli military facility. [continued…]