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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 April 2006, 08:48 GMT 09:48 UK
Syriana hit by plagiarism claims
George Clooney won an Oscar for Syriana
A French screenwriter is suing the makers of Oscar-winning oil thriller Syriana over allegations of plagiarism.

Stephanie Vergniault has filed legal action against Warner Bros, George Clooney's production company Section Eight and director Stephen Gaghan.

Ms Vergniault claims Syriana copied entire scenes from a script she wrote called Oversight.

A spokesman for Warner Bros said the case was "without merit", adding: "We will defend our position in court".

Clooney won a best supporting actor Oscar this year for his role in the political thriller about people involved in the oil industry and those affected by the world's need for oil.

Book inspiration

Ms Vergniault says she saw the film after being alerted by a friend and alleges at least 15 scenes were lifted from a script she developed between 1997 and 2003.

She said that she had read the book by CIA agent Robert Baer which director Gaghan said heavily inspired his film. But she added it did not resemble any of the movie's scenes that she claims were copied from her script.

Ms Vergniault said she is "furious" over the alleged plagiarism and is seeking two million euros (1.4m) in damages.

Gaghan, who wrote the screenplay for Traffic, originally entered the film into the best adapted screenplay Oscar category but organisers moved it to into the original screenplay section.

The director admitted he did veer from Robert Baer's See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism, but he still considered his work to be an adapted screenplay.

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