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L.A. Now Live: A daily conversation with The Times newsroom

October 3, 2012 |  6:50 am

As a creator of the film "Innocence of Muslims" sits in a downtown Los Angeles jail, some are wondering if Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is being punished because of the movie's content, which sparked violence across the Middle East.

Nakoula face two years in prison for allegedly violating the terms of his probation through his actions surrounding the film's production.

Government officials maintain that Nakoula is in custody not because of the impact of the movie, which portrays the prophet Muhammad as a womanizer and a child molester, but because he had used aliases in producing the film and lied to probation officers.

Nakoula, who was on a type of probation known in the federal system as supervised release, served time in prison for a 2010 conviction for taking out bank and credit cards under myriad fake identities. He now faces eight charges of probation violation.

The allegations include making false statements to authorities about the film — claiming his role was limited to writing the script — and denying he used the alias "Sam Bacile."

Authorities say they have proof Nakoula's role in the movie was "much more expansive" than that of a writer and that Nakoula could face new criminal charges for lying to federal officials.

Probation officials are recommending a two-year prison term for Nakoula, despite a guideline range of four to 10 months. A federal judge ordered him held in protective custody without bail, saying he is a flight risk and poses "some danger to the community."

Times staff writer Abby Sewell will be on L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. Wednesday to chat about Nakoula, the film and his detention.