Brüno producers settle lawsuit

Grocer says he was falsely portrayed as a terrorist.

by Jennie Kermode

Sacha Baron Cohen's documentaries deliberately blur the line between fact and fiction. Sometimes that can be taken too far, according to a $110M lawsuit brought in the US by Palestinian grocer Ayman Abu Aita. Now the film's producers have agreed a settlement with him for an unknown amount.

The settlement relates to the film Brüno, in which Baron Cohen plays the eponymous fashion journalist on a mission to bring peace to the Middle East. He interviews Abu Aita, who apparently thought he had been invited to speak about his own work as a peace campaigner. During the course of the interview, Abu Aita clearly becomes confused and angry about the questions he is being asked. What he didn't know when filming took place was that he would later be captioned as a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade.

According to his lawsuit, this depiction resulted in significant damage to Abu Aita's personal reputation and that of his grocery business. He received death threats and feared for the safety of his family. Lawyers for the Brüno team initially argued that their presentation of Abu Aita was legitimate under free speech legislation.

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