Man behind 'Innocence of Muslims' film to appear in L.A. court
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the creator of an an anti-Mulsim film that sparked violence in the Middle East, is expected to be asked by a judge Wednesday whether he violated his probation for a 2010 bank fraud conviction.
Federal prosecutors said Nakoula, 55, who uses several aliases, including Mark Basseley Youssef, had eight probation violations, including lying to his probation officer and using aliases.
He had gone into hiding after a 14-minute trailer for the movie “Innocence of Muslims” was posted on YouTube and has been in a federal detention center since Sept. 28 after he was arrested for the probation violations and deemed a flight risk by a magistrate judge.
Angry protests stoked by the film broke out in Egypt and Libya and violence related to the film has spread, killing dozens.
Nakoula may face two years in prison for allegedly violating the terms of his probation through his actions surrounding the film's production.
Government officials maintained that Nakoula was back 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 that 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.
-- Victoria Kim, Jessica Garrison and Abby Sewell
Photo: Courtroom drawing shows Nakoula Basseley Nakoula in court last month. Credit: Monda Shafter Edwards / AFP / Getty Images