Date: 14th August 2003

Diaz snapper charged

Prosecutors have charged a photographer with trying to extort $US3.3 million ($5.01) from Hollywood star Cameron Diaz over topless pictures he took of her before she was famous.

Snapper John Rutter is accused of attempting to make the blond Charlie's Angels actress pay up millions in return for him not making public the compromising photos taken of her nine years ago when she was 21.

Rutter, 41, was arrested on Tuesday at his Los Angeles-area apartment. Bail was set at $US250,000 ($380,000) pending his first appearance before Los Angeles Superior Court to hear the charges against him read today.

He was charged with one count each of attempted extortion and attempted grand theft and perjury, along with two counts of forgery, the complaint showed.

Rutter last month denied any attempt to extort money from the actress, telling the Inside Edition entertainment television show that he had offered to sell the pictures to her first as a courtesy.

"This was a negotiation for a right of first refusal with Cameron Diaz's lawyers," Rutter said. "A few hours after her lawyers offered to buy the photos my place was raided."

One of the forgery charges alleges that Rutter forged Diaz's name on a model release form that purportedly showed she had given him permission to market the picture.

The perjury charge also stems from the allegedly forged model release form dated May 30, 1992, according to the complaint.

Diaz, 30, filed a civil suit against Rutter last month to stop him from selling the potentially embarrassing photographs, claiming her signature had been forged on the release form.

A judge ruled last month that the pictures taken of Diaz would be protected by the court until the suit is settled because she had a right to privacy of her own body.

The actress has starred in films such as Something About Mary, Vanilla Sky and last year's epic Gangs of New York and is one of Tinseltown's hottest young stars.

Source: Press Release