A US judge on Thursday rejected a request by an actress in the anti-Islamic video that set off violent Muslim protests to ban YouTube from showing the trailer, after claiming that she was duped.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Louis Lavin refused the request by lawyers for actress Cindy Lee Garcia for a restraining order to prevent the online video-sharing service from continuing to show the low-budget movie trailer.
Garcia is one of three actresses in the film to have come forward with similar accusations since the explosion of violence that ripped through Muslim countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia last week.
She sued YouTube and its owner Google for releasing excerpts of the amateurish film, Innocence of Muslims, which was later dubbed into Arabic and made to show the Prophet Mohammed as a thuggish womanizer.
Her lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, alleges that the the movie’s director — identified by the pseudonym Sam Bacile — presented it as an adventure film about ancient Egyptians called “Desert Warrior”.
The English version of the 14-minute trailer, which has already been withdrawn from YouTube in a number of countries, includes blatantly overdubbed parts of dialogue. Garcia has suffered severe emotional distress, financial setbacks and the “destruction of her career and reputation,” the lawsuit says.
The actress’ lawyer Cris Armenta said she was duped by the producer and now her life is in danger.
“Clearly she was defrauded, clearly she was lied to,” he said.
Speaking before the hearing, Garcia said she hoped the court would take immediate action to ban YouTube from hosting the video trailer, arguing that its continued availability puts her at risk of attack.
“I think, yes, we have a right to free speech, but what they did was wrong,” she said.
YouTube last week restricted access to the film in Egypt and Libya after unrest in those countries and it has been adding countries to the list. Some others, including Pakistan and Sudan, have blocked access to the film themselves.
On Wednesday it extended its restrictions on the video to “countries where it is considered illegal by local authorities; that is, to date, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.”
The US actress also filed a lawsuit against the reported producer of the film, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, on the grounds of invasion of privacy, fraud, slander and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The 55-year-old Egyptian Copt and convicted fraudster — out on parole — lives in Los Angeles and has admitted to working on the film.
US media say Nakoula wrote and produced the film, using the pseudonym Sam Bacile before being identified.
“The movie is a political movie. It’s not a religious movie,” Nakoula told the Wall Street Journal, adding: “Islam is a cancer.”