In new twist, actress sues YouTube to remove anti-Islam video

The actress Cindy Lee Garcia said she was deceived as to the true nature of the film project

In a new twist over the controversy surrounding an anti-Islam movie trailer on YouTube, an actress shown in the trailer has filed a lawsuit demanding that YouTube and its owner Google take down the video.

Google has maintained so far that the video, which sparked off protests in many countries, is clearly within its guidelines and so will stay on YouTube.

Actress Cindy Lee Garcia in a complaint filed Wednesday before the Superior Court of the State of California for the county of Los Angeles stated that "the lawsuit is not an attack on the First Amendment (to the U.S. Constitution) nor on the right for Americans to say what they think, but does request that the offending content be removed from the Internet."

Garcia, who claims invasion of privacy, misappropriation of her likeness, fraud, and unfair business practices, alleged in her complaint that she was cast in a film titled "Desert Warrior" and that defendant Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, also known as Sam Bacile, a resident of Los Angeles county, told her that it was an adventure film about ancient Egyptians.

On July 2, Bacile is alleged to have published on YouTube a video entitled "The Innocence of Muslims" which had its soundtrack manipulated to make it appear that Garcia was slandering Islam and Muslim beliefs, according to the complaint which names Nakoula, Google and YouTube as defendants.

The plaintiff was unaware of the vile content contained in the film as the content and overall purpose of the film was concealed from them at all times by defendant Bacile and other as yet unnamed defendants, according to the complaint.

Garcia said that after the film was published on YouTube she had received death threats, was fired from her job, and was not permitted by her family to see her grandchildren, fearing for their safety.

YouTube informed her in writing that it has declined to remove the content despite her privacy concerns, according to the complaint.

Garcia will seek an emergency temporary restraining order against Nakoula and YouTube on Thursday in the court, according to a statement by attorneys The Armenta Law Firm. She seeks an order that the content be removed permanently from YouTube, it added.

Google did not immediately comment on the lawsuit.

The trailer which mocks the Prophet has led to protests at U.S. embassies and consulates in various countries including Egypt, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Indonesia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

So far, Google has blocked the trailer in six countries: Egypt, Libya, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. Although the company finds that the trailer is clearly within its guidelines and so will stay on YouTube, it has restricted access to it in countries where it is illegal such as India and Indonesia, it said.

The trailer was also blocked in Libya and Egypt given the very sensitive situations in these two countries, Google said last week. Four Americans including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens were killed last week when a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was stormed by gunmen. (

Pakistan and Bangladesh have blocked the entire YouTube website after Google declined to remove access to the video.

White House press secretary, Jay Carney, said last week that the U.S. does not and cannot stop individual citizens from expressing their views. He however criticized the video as "disgusting and reprehensible."

The decision to block the video in Egypt and Libya was determined solely by a company in the U.S. with presumably no local expertise, and without consulting local civil liberties groups in either country, Internet rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation said in a blog post on Thursday. "Given the freedoms that Egyptians and Libyans risked their lives for during the uprisings of 2011, it is a shame that a Western company would serve as arbiter of what they are and are not capable of viewing online," it added.

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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