A US actress who starred in the controversial anti-Islam video, the “Innocence of Muslims”, has sued the film’s suspected director and YouTube.
In a complaint filed in a California court on Wednesday, Cindy Lee Garcia, alleges fraud, slander and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
She is targeting Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a 55-year-old Egyptian Copt and convicted fraudster – out on parole – who lives in Los Angeles and has admitted to working on the video.
US media say Nakoula wrote and directed the video, using the pseudonym Sam Bacile before being identified.
“Mr Bacile represented to her that the film was indeed an adventure film about ancient Egyptians,” the suit states.
He was questioned overnight on Friday by police before going into hiding with his family.
Garcia is one of three actresses in the video to have come forward with similar accusations since the explosion of violence that ripped through Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia last week.
Citing death threats, Garcia’s lawyer asked the court to order Google-owned video website, YouTube, to remove the video.
“She has been subjected to credible death threats and is in fear of her life and the life and safety of anyone associated with her,” the suit states.
The lawsuit goes on to say that Garcia is no longer permitted to see her grandchildren after the video’s publicitiy.
The head of the Christian broadcasting charity Media for Christ, identified as the production company behind the movie, said on Tuesday that he, too, had been fooled by the producer.
He said he had been told the film would be about “Christian persecution”.
‘He was playing us’
Another actress told US broadcaster CNN on Monday she signed on to the project – originally titled “Desert Warrior” with a central character named George – in response to a casting notice on the Craigslist website.
Lily Dionne, who had just arrived in Hollywood to pursue her acting career, said Nakoula appeared on set to be in total control of the project.
|Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has gone into hiding since his name was linked with the controversial video [Reuters]|
“He had a vision… he wanted things a certain way,” she said. “He knew what he was doing. He was playing us all along.”
Of the plot, she said: “We did wonder what it was about. They kept saying ‘George.’ Like, this was the Middle East 2,000 years ago. Who’s ‘George’?”
Later, when the project was in post-production, Dionne and other cast members were called in to record “specific words, like Muhammad, for example. It was isolated. It wasn’t in context”.
Another actress, Anna Gurji, told how she had auditioned last year for a supporting role in what she called “an indie low-budget feature movie… about a comet falling into a desert and ancient tribes fighting over it…”
“A year later, the movie was dubbed [without the actors’ permission], the lines were changed drastically and the movie was morphed into an anti-Islam film,” she said.
“Even the names of the characters were changed. And the character I had scenes with, George, became Muhammad,” she added, in a letter to British writer Neil Gaiman, who posted it on his blog.
More than 30 people have been killed in attacks and violent protests linked to the video “Innocence of Muslims”.