A federal judge has dismissed a $20 million defamation lawsuit filed against filmmaker Michael Moore by the brother of Oklahoma-bombing conspirator Terry Nichols.


DETROIT (Reuters) -- A federal judge has dismissed a $20 million defamation lawsuit filed against filmmaker Michael Moore by the brother of Oklahoma-bombing conspirator Terry Nichols.

The suit, filed in October 2003, stemmed from statements Moore made about James Nichols in "Bowling for Columbine," his 2002 documentary on gun violence in America.

Nichols charged that the documentary wrongfully implied he was involved in the April 1995 bombing of the federal office building in Oklahoma City that took 168 lives. He also said it intentionally inflicted emotional distress on him.

U.S. District Court Judge Paul Borman on July 13 issued a 25-page ruling for Moore.

"The court finds that defendant's statements were factual and substantially true statements," Borman wrote in his opinion.

Moore, who interviewed James Nichols on his farm in Decker, Michigan, said the brothers and Timothy McVeigh made "practice bombs" there before the Oklahoma City bombing.

James Nichols was arrested shortly after the bombing and charged with possessing explosive devices on his farm. He was also held as a material witness in the bombing. But criminal charges against him were dropped due to a lack of evidence.

McVeigh was executed in June 2001 for detonating the truck bomb made of fuel and fertilizer while parked beside the building. Terry Nichols was convicted of manslaughter in a federal court and sentenced to life without parole.

Among the statements to which James Nichols objected was one in which Moore said, "Terry Nichols was arrested and received a life sentence. Timothy McVeigh was executed. But the feds didn't have the goods on James, so the charges were dropped."

Borman ruled the statement "was literally true and accurately reported the government's dismissal of the charges" against Nichols.