Controversial director Michael Moore's lawyer has asked a federal judge to dismiss a libel lawsuit against the filmmaker filed by the brother of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator TERRY NICHOLS.

JAMES NICHOLS claims Moore tricked him into appearing in BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE - the OSCAR-winning 2002 documentary that studied guns and violence in American culture.

He also accuses Moore of libel, defamation of character, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress for allegedly linking him to the 1995 bombing that killed 168 people in the film.

Moore's lawyer HERSCHEL FINK says his client's assertions in Bowling for Columbine - including implying Nichols "slipped away" from authorities investigating the Oklahoma City bombing - are protected as free speech.

Fink argues, "It's a bit of hyperbole, but hyperbole is also a Supreme Court-protected form of speech."

He adds Bowling for Columbine opened in New York and Los Angeles two years ago (11OCT02), more than a year before the lawsuit was filed.

Neither Moore nor James attended Wednesday's (14JUL04) hearing, and the judge did not indicate when he would issue a ruling.

15/07/2004 17:25