An actress from the anti-Islam short film that inciting demonstrations around the Middle East is suing Google and YouTube, as well as the film’s producer, in an effort to have it taken offline.
Cindy Lee Garcia said on The Today Show Monday that she was fooled into taking part in the project, which she thought was called “Desert Warriors,” and has received death threats since it went viral earlier this month.
“Right now I’m just very cautious with my surroundings,” Garcia told host Savannah Guthrie. “I’ve taken all my information away from the public. I’m coming forward to clear my name, because I was duped.”
Garcia said she was under the impression she was making “an adventure film,” echoing claims by other cast members, some of whom had performed in the adult film industry.
Instead, the video, called “The Innocence of Muslims,” portrays the Islamic holy figure Muhammad as a womanizer and a pedophile. The Muslim religion forbids any representation of Muhammad.
She said she plans to resubmit a lawsuit asking Google and YouTube to take the video down, and accusing the film’s producer, who she knew as “Sam Bacile,” of fraud and intent of emotional distress.
“Bacile,” whose real name is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, has been in hiding since speaking to authorities near his Southern California home as they determine whether he violated his parole by uploading the film online.
Earlier this month, KNBC-TV reported that a “script consultant” on the film, Steven Klein, had also reported getting death threats before leaving his home in Hemet, California.
Klein said he felt “no guilt” over the violent protests that followed portions of the video being broadcast in the Middle East, one of which led to the death of U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya. Government officials in both Libya and the U.S. have not excluded the possibility that the attack was premeditated separately from the protest.
Even though a state judge has dismissed Garcia’s initial request to YouTube and Google, citing First Amendment rights, her attorney, Cris Armenta said, she will resubmit her suit in federal court, citing the two sites’ own policies.
“I think we should be very clear that Google and YouTube are doing the wrong thing,” Armenta said. “In fact, they say in their own terms and guidelines that hate speech is not allowed. How can this not be hate speech? How can this not be wrong — morally, intellectually, legally.”
Like her fellow cast members, Garcia said her dialogue was replaced with anti-Islamic lines that do not reflect her religious beliefs. NBC News reported that other cast members plan to file their own lawsuits against Nakoula, but not against the two websites.
“When I first saw the trailer, I saw all these things in the trailer that were not there when I was on set, so I was confused,” she said. “When I saw myself on there, I knew that it was the actual film, but there were other words that were put in my mouth, and I was devastated.”
Garcia’s interview with Today, aired Monday on NBC, can be seen below.