NEW YORK (Reuters) - Filmmaker Michael Moore has stashed a copy of his latest documentary in Canada because he fears the U.S. government will try to confiscate it after part of it was filmed during an unauthorized trip to Cuba.
The U.S. Treasury Department is investigating Moore’s trip to communist Cuba in March to film part of his documentary, “SiCKO,” which takes a swipe at the U.S. health-care system and is due to be released in U.S. theaters on June 29.
U.S. citizens are generally barred from going to Cuba, unless approved by the government under a broad trade embargo imposed since 1962. But Moore says he has not broken any laws because he traveled to Cuba for a “journalistic endeavor.”
“We brought back 15 minutes of the movie and we’re concerned about any possible confiscation efforts,” Moore told a news conference in New York.
“We took measures a few weeks ago to place a master copy of this film in Canada so if they did take our negative we would have a duplicate negative of this film in Canada.”
Moore — whose 2004 anti-Bush film “Fahrenheit 9/11” ranks as the most successful U.S. documentary — and lawyer David Boies accused President George W. Bush’s administration of discriminating against the controversial filmmaker.
Molly Millerwise, spokeswoman for the Treasury Department, declined to comment, saying in an e-mail that the department does not confirm or deny the existence of investigations.
Moore traveled to Cuba with three volunteers who worked in the ruins of New York’s World Trade Center after the September 11, 2001, attacks. He said the volunteers were now suffering health problems after working at Ground Zero and struggling to get appropriate treatment under the U.S. health-care system.
Moore said that he took them by boat to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, where Washington is holding foreign terrorism suspects, to see if they could get the same free health coverage as the detainees.
After they were refused, he said they decided to see what kind of health care they could get in Cuba.