Avatar star Sam Worthington has been arrested in New York City, accused of punching a photographer after the man kicked his girlfriend in the shin.

The 37-year-old Australian actor was arrested for assault after the confrontation in Greenwich Village on Sunday evening.

The Australian actor, released on a desk appearance ticket, is due to appear in court tomorrow.

The photographer, Sheng Li, 37, was released without bail after his arraignment yesterday on misdemeanour assault and harassment charges.

A court complaint says Worthington's girlfriend told police Li followed her on the streets and tried to trip her. But his d efence lawyer Ronald Kuby said Li was attacked by the couple.

AP