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'The Dictator' Star Says UN Banned Him To Protect Dictators

Actor Sacha Baron Cohen, in character from his film "The Dictator," speaks to members of the media during a news conference in New York on May 7.
"Borat" and "The Dictator" star Sacha Baron Cohen has told BBC that the United Nations refused to let him film scenes from his most recent movie on its premises for fear the move could upset dictators.

He told BBC Radio 4's "Today" program, "The interesting thing is, when we asked to shoot inside the United Nations, they actually refused.

"We said, 'This is a pro-democracy movie.' They said, 'That's the problem -- we represent a lot of dictators, and they are going to be very angry by this portrayal of them, so you can't shoot in there."

In "The Dictator," Baron Cohen plays Admiral General Aladeen, which he says is a parody of tyrants such as former Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman, Martin Nesirky, was questioned by a reporter on the matter on May 18. He responded simply, "Sacha Baron Cohen has a wonderful sense of humor".

Tajikistan, which has been ruled by President Emomali Rahmon for almost all of the past 20 years, has already banned the film.

-- Courtney Brooks

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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