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Judge jails 'Innocence of Muslims' filmmaker

September 27, 2012 |  8:09 pm

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the filmmaker behind the controversial movie “Innocence of Muslims,” was being held in a federal detention center in Los Angeles late Thursday after a judge ordered him seized on a probation violation.

Under heavy security, Nakoula was taken to the Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown L.A. Officials said he was placed in protective custody.

Judge Suzanne H. Segal said Nakoula posed "some danger to the community" and had lied to probation officials.

"The court has a lack of trust in the defendant at this time," she said.

Nakoula was arrested earlier in the day. Federal prosecutors argued in a court hearing Thursday afternoon that he posed a flight risk and should remain in custody.

His attorney argued that Nakoula be released on bond, saying his client would be in danger at the downtown L.A. federal prison because it had a large Muslim population. He also denied his client violated his probation.

Nakoula was convicted on bank fraud charges in 2010 and was warned against misbehaving on the Internet.

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He was ordered not to own or use devices with access to the Web without approval from his probation officer -– and any approved computers were to be used for work only. "Defendant shall not access a computer for any other purpose," according to the terms of his probation.

There were also restrictions placed on him in enlisting others to get on the Internet for him. Some speculated that Nakoula may have violated those terms after the film trailer was loaded onto YouTube, although it is unclear what exactly prompted the recent arrest.

Nakoula had been arrested in 2009 after federal agents searched his home in Cerritos on suspicion that he had engaged in a scheme to create fake identities and open credit cards in those names, then draw tens of thousands of dollars from the phony accounts.

According to the court file, Nakoula operated under a dizzying array of aliases, including Kritbag Difrat. In June 2010, he was convicted on four counts, including bank fraud and identity theft, and was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison. He was also ordered to pay $794,700.57 in restitution.

He was released, according to federal records, in June 2011.

Authorities interviewed Nakoula earlier this month amid the furor over the movie. Actors have identified him as the filmmaker.


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Photo: Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is escorted to a voluntary interview with federal authorities on Sept. 15. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times