Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress who appeared in the low-budget anti-Muslim film, “Innocence of Muslims,” is suing the filmmaker for slander and fraud. Garcia’s suit also seeks to compel Google GOOG +1.28% and YouTube to take down the movie’s 14-minute trailer.
The film has sparked protests around the world as well as attacks on U.S. diplomatic posts including one that killed U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other American diplomats.
Garcia filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Los Angeles in the wake of death threats against her and her inability to visit her grandchildren, according to the suit.
Garcia first became involved with the film when she responded to an ad for a “historical Arabian Desert adventure film,” the document says. The film, titled “Desert Warriors” was later altered with anti-Islamic voice-overs, according to the suit.
The film “has been changed grotesquely to make it appear that Ms. Garcia voluntarily performed in a hateful anti-Islamic production,” Garcia’s attorney, M. Cris Armenta, wrote in the document. She also called the film “vile and reprehensible.”
The lawsuit claims that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man who reportedly organized the production of “Innocence of Muslims,” misled Garcia. He reportedly has been forced into hiding since the trailer began drawing attention. The document also names Sam Bacile, an alias federal authorities have said that they believe to be Nakoula.
Her lawyer also wrote that Garcia “at no time expected that Defendants would use her image as a virtual ‘puppet.’”
The document lists Sept. 2011 as the first time that Garcia became aware of the post-production changes.
“This lawsuit is not an attack on the First Amendment nor on the right of Americans to say what they think, but does request that the offending content be removed from the Internet,” the suit states. Garcia’s attorneys plan to seek an injunction against the film Thursday.
Steven Seiden, Nakoula’s defense attorney, has made it “abundantly clear” that he is not representing him in this civil matter, according to Armenta, who served him with this lawsuit. She also said that she served Nakoula’s federal probation officer and taped a copy to Nakoula’s door in Cerritos, Calif.
Nakoula is currently on probation for a bank fraud case.
Google, which owns YouTube, has blocked the trailer in Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India and Indonesia–but it remains online in the United States./theglobeandmail.com/