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Photographer blames 'Avatar' star's girlfriend for starting fight

Photographer Sheng Li exits the Manhattan Criminal Court following his hearing in New York, April 1, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Photographer Sheng Li exits the Manhattan Criminal Court following his hearing in New York, April 1, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The photographer charged along with "Avatar" star Sam Worthington after a street altercation in Manhattan, on Tuesday blamed the Australian actor's model girlfriend for starting the fight and wants her arrested, his lawyer said.

Mark Heller, the lawyer representing photographer Sheng Li said his client, who appeared in court on charges of assault, reckless endangerment and harassment for the February 23 incident, was attacked by Worthington, 37, and his girlfriend Lara Bingle.

Heller also distributed a video of the scuffle to the press.

"There's video showing Lara Bingle aggressively pursuing and coming towards my client. There's no video of him attacking her; she was the aggressor," Heller told reporters outside Manhattan Criminal Court.

"She has to be charged. There has to be a warrant issued for her arrest," he added.

Li's case was adjourned until next month.

There was no immediate comment from Worthington's representatives. The actor was charged with assaulting Li and is also due to appear in court next month.

Heller said Li was doing his job and that Worthington and Bingle were trying to grab his camera and deprive him of his livelihood.

"I think we made it clear today that paparazzi are not second-class citizens and they are certainly not celebrity punching bags," he added.

Worthington, born in England but raised in Australia, starred as Jake Sully the 2009 blockbuster "Avatar" and is due to reprise the role in upcoming sequels. He also appeared in "Wrath of the Titans" in 2012.

(Reporting by Soren Larson; Writing by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Eric Kelsey and Gunna Dickson)

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